The most performed German comedy of all time is finally available in English

It has taken 90 years, but at last we have a published translation of the most performed German stage comedy of all time. Written in 1932, filmed in Hollywood in 1951 (as PEOPLE WILL TALK starring Cary Grant and Jeanne Crain), this intriguing work is finally available in English thanks to a sparkling new translation by arts leader, polymath and my good friend Philippe Rixhon.

DR JOB PRAETORIUS (the play’s original title) was written in 1932, at a time when democracy was being challenged by extremists. But while the surface of the play is almost untouched by that turbulence, underneath lies a deep resentment of the unfolding political climate, and the controlling machinations of envy, greed, and stupidity. Curt Goetz (1888-1960) is a German theatrical institution, as a stage and film actor, a director, and a playwright. His plays echo the romanticism of Schiller and Goethe, the expressionism of Wedekind, the constructed wit of Oscar Wilde, and the natural drama of Ibsen. They are not sentimental but emotional, not intellectual but intelligent. Goetz wrote his plays “guided by the compulsion to create laughter”. This compulsion proved well placed; no other writer’s comedies have been as frequently incorporated into the repertoire of the German theatre in the last eighty years.

Despite being a distant relative of George Bernard Shaw, and the translator of Noel Coward’s works into German, Goetz remains an unknown quantity to the English stage. Until now.

HOW TO DIE LAUGHING is a play in seven acts. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are left defeated by the circumstances of the mysterious death of Dr Praetorius – a celebrated professor killed in a car crash. The sudden appearance of Mr Shunderson, Praetorius’ factotum, only serves to confuse them further. But when Shunderson begins to tell the unbelievable story of his master’s demise, the fate of Praetorius gradually unfolds – as the four months before his eventual death are retold in flashback. However not everything is as straightforward as it sometimes seems: for instance, why was the respected physician hauled in front of a Board of Ethics the day before he died? Could it have something to do with the treatment of his student Maria Violetta? Or does it go further back to the opening of his practice in Peepnest? And why is Shunderson so secretive about his own past?

Philippe Rixhon

Philippe Rixhon has exercised his considerable creative talents across a wide range of the arts, from music to tech engineering to high-level entrepreneurship and so much more; whatever Philippe focuses his creative eye upon will receive the highest level of care and artistic love woven into a satisfying and innovative creative solution.

Philippe founded L’atelier Spectaculaire in 2005. Belgian-born, he was involved with Brussels’ Théâtre d’Art at the age of fourteen; theatre has been his passion ever since. Before focusing on literary creation, audience engagement and creators’ remuneration, Philippe spent more than twenty years managing successful and innovative high-tech projects for major companies in ten countries.

Philippe graduated in philosophy and engineering at the University of Louvain ­la­ Neuve and in management at Boston University. He learnt acting at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts, set design at the Belgian Centre d’Études Théâtrales, and theatre directing at Middlesex University. Philippe is fluent in English, French and German.

Highly recommended, Philippe’s fresh translation of HOW TO DIE LAUGHING is published by L’atelier Spectaculaire, a division of Philippe Rixhon Associates Ltd.

One reviewer summed up the quality of Rixhon’s incisive translation thus:

“Sassy, timeless social commentary, in a league with Oscar Wilde. Rixhon’s translation, the first in English, is delightfully playful, with brilliant repartee that artfully conveys Goetz’s sophisticated explorations of the human psyche”. Eric Liebtrau, Associate Editor, Kirkus Special Reports, Broadway

You can find the eBook of HOW TO DIE LAUGHING at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and in more selected stores at a very modest price.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.