Rutgers Theater Company presents "Fear and Misery in the Third Reich" Oct. 7-15

When ordinary people are put into extraordinary situations, anything can happen. Rutgers Theater Company explores the range of human reaction as lives are dismantled in Bertolt Brecht’s Fear and Misery in the Third Reich, running from Friday, October 7, through Saturday, October 15, 2016, at the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater.

Brecht’s 1938 play was written while in exile as German fascism was rising to frightening heights. Through a series of scenes depicting paranoia and prejudice creeping into everyday life, Brecht presents a palette of human response--denial, terror, suspicion, and even darkly comical behavior as emotions explode and the line between right and wrong blurs.

It’s a story that production stage manager Leanne Sinsky knows all too well: her great-uncle was a Holocaust survivor who escaped from Austria.

“I didn’t realize the emotional weight I would feel during rehearsals,” says Sinsky, a fourth-year BFA student in the Theater Department. “It’s easy to demonize, but to see a play where these people who committed horrible acts are personified and given families and lives--that is what is haunting about this play.”

The play features a cast of six actors directed David Schweizer, who makes his Rutgers Theater Company debut after more than 40 years of directing and developing new theater, performance, and opera nationally and internationally.

Brecht’s behind-the-scenes look at how a society can fall apart under extreme government rule is as relevant as ever, even in the United States, especially in light of the nation’s division over presidential nominees and the media’s emphasis on fear over logical, bipartisan discussion and debate, Sinsky says.

“Even though this play doesn’t directly address the politics of America right now, our presidential election occurs only three weeks following the closing night of our show,” says Sinsky. “I hope audiences leave feeling in awe and wonderment of the scenes happening on stage. But I also hope they leave feeling inspired to take action.”

Fear and Misery in the Third Reich runs from Friday, October 7, through Saturday, October 15, 2016, at the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $25 for the general public, $20 for Rutgers alumni and employees and seniors, and only $15 for students with valid ID. The Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater is in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street (between Route 18 and Ryders Lane), on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 848-932-7511.

This event is underwritten by the Leora M. Sies Theater Fund Foundation. Fear and Misery in the Third Reich (Willett, trans.) is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

Photo by Christina Woolard.

Posted September 2016.