Voltaire & Frederick: A Life in Letters

Saturday, November 10, 2012 2:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)


On November 10th, the German Stage visited the University of Waterloo staging their play Voltaire & Frederick: A Life in Letters.

For further information about the play, please read the article in our newsletter Wat's In-Sight issue 8 (PDF).

About the play

Commissioned in honor of Frederick II's 300th birthday, Voltaire and Frederick: A Life in Letters is an overview of the pen-pal friendship between these two great thinkers that spanned almost half a century. The play is made up of selected letter exchanges between the great French-European philosopher and the Royal Prince (and later King) of Prussia, beginning when the latter was a mere 24 years old (and the former 42) and ending with the eulogy Frederick II wrote in memoriam of Voltaire's death in 1778.
Their intensive correspondence on everything from questions of torture and human rights to good and bad governance, from handling a global financial crisis to judging whether a war is justified or unjustified, all in the context of a newly enlightened Europe, is surprisingly modern. Much of it rings true in our own politicized times including the ongoing German-French wrangling at the center of Europe. Voltaire and Frederick's tempestuous and unfolding love-hate relationship gives insight not only into the history of the 18th century but also into more general ideas about love, desire, desperation, death and God.
75 min in English plus Q+A



German Stage is an initiative supported by the Goethe-Institut Boston to explore narrative in German culture and society through theater. In addition to presenting contemporary German plays in the presence of the invited playwrights, German Stage develops staged works that address current and historical topics in Germany. The series was developed in close collaboration with Guy Ben-Aharon, Producing Artistic Director and Founder of Israeli Stage.


American Repertory Theater: 119 productions, including R. Buckminster Fuller: THE HISTORY (and Myster) OF THE UNIVERSE (R. Buckminster Fuller), Cabaret (Fraulein Schneider), Endgame (Clov), The Seagull (Dorn), Oliver Twist (also at Theatre for a New Audience and Berkeley Repertory Theatre), The Birthday Party (Stanley), Highway Ulysses (Ulysses), Uncle Vanya (Vanya), Marat/Sade (Marquis de Sade), Richard II (Richard). Broadway: Jackie: An American Life (23 roles). Off-Broadway: Johan Padan (Johan), Big Time (Ted). Tours with the Company across the U.S., with residencies in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and throughout Europe, Canada, Israel, Taiwan, Japan and Moscow, and has recently been performing Julius Caesar in France. Other: I Am My Own Wife, Boston TheatreWorks; Approaching Moomtaj, New Repertory Theatre; Twelfth Night and The Tempest, Commonwealth Shakespeare Co.; London's Battersea Arts Center; five productions at Houston's Alley Theatre, including Our Town r. ibbs, directed by os uintero ; and many theatres throughout the .S. Awards: 1994 Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, 2000 and 2004 IRNE Awards for Best Actor, 1997 Los Angeles DramaLogue Award (for title role of Shlemiel the First). Television: ulie Taymor's film Fool's Fire (PBS American Playhouse), "Unsolved Mysteries," "Del and Alex" (Alex, A&E Network). Film: Mystic River (directed by Clint Eastwood), The Pink Panther II. He is on the faculty of the A.R.T. Institute, teaches acting at Harvard University and Emerson College, and is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

JOHN KUNTZ (Fredrick II)

John Kuntz is a founding company member of the Actors Shakespeare Project, where his credits include Pandulph in King John, Tamora in the all-male Titus Andronicus, Autolycus in The Winter's Tale, Lucio/Froth in Measure for Measure, Sebastian in Twelfth Night, Bertram/the Clown in All's Well That Ends Well, and the title role in Richard III. NY credits include Mrs. Daigle in The Bad Seed (Ohio Theatre), Kurt in Jump/Rope (which he also wrote) with Square Peg Productions at Urban Stages, and his one-person shows Starfuckers (Ohio Theatre and NY Fringe) and Freaks! (Solo Arts Group). Recent Boston credits include the title role in Mr. Marmalade(Company One), numerous productions of The SantaLand Diaries (IRNE Award---Best Solo Performance), Katurian in the New England premiere of The Pillowman, Estragon in Waiting for Godot, the title role in Scapin, Austin in True West (all with New Repertory Theatre), twenty roles in How I Got That Story (Nora Theatre Company), forty roles in Fully Committed (Lyric Stage), Voice #1 in Betty's Summer Vacation (Huntington Theatre Company), and three seasons with Commonwealth Shakespeare, appearing in Henry V(Fluellen), Twelfth Night (Sir Andrew), and Hamlet (Guildenstern/Osric). Film: The Red Right Hand (Roger), Anathema (Neil; Best Actor Award---Festival Du Cinema du Bruxelles). John is the author of 14 full-length plays. He received both an Elliot Norton Award and New York International Fringe Festival Award for his solo show Starfuckers and his plays Sing Me To Sleep and Freaks! both received Elliot Norton Awards for "Outstanding Fringe Production." He was an inaugural Playwrighting Fellow with the Huntington Theatre Company and a Fellow at the O'Neill Center. His play Jasper Lake received both the Michael Kanin and Paula Vogel National Playwrighting Awards, with productions at the Kennedy Center (Washington DC) and the New York Fringe Festival. His newest solo show, The Salt Girl, received the 2010 Elliot Norton Award for Best New Play and was recently performed at the Boston Playwrights Theatre, directed and designed by David Gammons. He teaches at Suffolk University and is on the faculty of The Boston Conservatory.

GUY BEN-AHARON (Director/Producer)
Born in Israel, Guy is the Producing Artistic Director and Founder of Israeli Stage, an initiative to bring Israeli theatre to American audiences. Guy is also the Sole Proprietor and President of GBA Productions LLC, a commercial entity that is dedicated to producing theatrical ventures. Guy is currently directing and producing the world premiere of Cupcake, a new musical written by Boston-based writing team Seeman-Wartofsky-Reiffel, featuring A.R.T. founding member Karen MacDonald. Cupcake will receive its world premiere at Club Café Boston May 10th through June 24th. Guy is also spearheading the group sales initiative for Maestro: Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin Alone, starring internationally acclaimed actor/playwright/pianist Hershey Felder, at ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage, after serving as a Business Assistant for six months, working with Executive Director Rob Orchard and providing support in artistic programming/research and administration. Following the success of Israeli Stage, Guy was asked by the Goethe-Institut Boston to develop German Stage, which will begin its premiere season in October, 2012 with Voltaire and Fredrick: A Life in Letters. He has directed and produced seven plays for Israeli Stage, featuring multiple IRNE and Elliot Norton Award winning actors; of those five plays: one world premiere, three American premieres, and three regional premieres. Guy was recently commissioned by Harvard niversity to adapt avid rossman's award winning novel To the End of the Land into a play, and as Producing Artistic Director, he produced the American premiere of At Night's End, directed by OBIE award winner Melia Bensussen, and oversaw a campus tour of his own production of Savyon Liebrecht's Apples from the Desert in over half a dozen academic institutions in the Greater Boston Area, including Harvard University, M.I.T., and Brown University, among others. Though primarily focused on producing and directing, Guy has experience with musical directing, conducting, and composing for straight plays as well as musicals. Guy is a proud Emerson College alum where he was the Waldman Award recipient for an exceptional promise for a career in theater.

Voltaire & Frederick: A Life in Letters Poster