heiner muller photo by jack zipes
Heiner Müller in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, December 1975. Photo courtesy of Jack Zipes. With writing from Heiner Müller.

The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center in New York City presented the symposium Heiner Müller’s Discovery of America livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 19 December

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Playwright, poet, and author, Heiner Müller (Jan. 9, 1929–Dec. 30, 1995) is considered the most significant German dramatist of the twentieth century after Bertolt Brecht.

Müller’s Hamletmachine represents an iconic and enigmatic text in post-dramatic theatre that has been highly influential on a global scale for writers, directors, and dramaturgs. During the 1970s, Müller received permission to temporarily leave East Germany to visit America. Müller’s journeys in the US included cross‑country trips and visits to Austin, Milwaukee, Madison, San Francisco, and New York City; a second journey brought him also to Mexico and Puerto Rico—altogether an experience that ultimately changed the aesthetics of his work.

The Segal Center’s all-day symposium will trace Müller’s artistic and political thinking and artistic practice during his American journeys, where he witnessed the decline of Socialism at home and the rise of Neo‑Capitalism in the US. International theatre artists, scholars, friends, and former students will revisit the dramatist’s journey through America with screenings, documentary materials, excerpted readings of selected works, short lectures, and panel discussions.

Screenings will include rehearsals of Heiner Müller’s play Mauser in Austin, Texas, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1975; Heiner Müller’s readings of parts of Life of Gundling Lessing’s Sleep Dream Cry, as well as Hamletmachine, and video excerpts of "The Man in the Elevator"—part of  Heiner Müller’s play The Mission—directed by Heiner Goebbels, partly spoken by Heiner Müller.

Participants: Terry Galloway,  Frank Hentschker, Andreas Huyssen, Jonathan Kalb, Bonnie Marranca, Klaudia Ruschkowski, Wolfgang Storch, David Bathrick, and others.

Findings from the Segal Center Heiner Müller in America Symposium will be presented in a follow-up event in Berlin, followed by a book publication. Curated by Wolfgang Storch and Klaudia Ruschkowski, in collaboration with Frank Hentschker.

PAJ Publications is Heiner Müller’s American publisher.

The event is dedicated to Betty Nance Weber, who first invited Heiner Müller to the US as a Writer-in-Residence to the University of Austin, Texas, in 1975.


Morning Program
10 a.m.–1 p.m. EST (New York) / 16:00–19:00 CET (Berlin)

Screening: Mauser and A Weekend at the Beach

Welcome by Frank Hentschker, Klaudia Ruschkowski, and Wolfgang Storch

Video: Heiner Müller in America. Excerpt from the film, I don’t want to know who I am (Directed by Christoph Rüter, 2009)

Introduction to Mauser by Wolfgang Storch and Klaudia Ruschkowski

Video: Mauser (Austin, Texas; Directed by Fred Behringer, 1975). Presentation by Terry Galloway

Film: A Weekend at the Beach with Jean-Luc Godard (Directed by Ira Schneider, 1979; 9’59’’) Heiner Müller with Jean-Luc Godard, Wim Winders, and Jean-Pierre Gorin at San Diego. Memories of Wim Wenders.


Afternoon Program
3 p.m.–5:15 p.m. EST (New York) / 21:00–23:15 CET (Berlin)

Texts by Heiner Müller for the Conferences: History in Contemporary Drama (1975), Post-Modernism (1978), and Brecht (1979). Screening: The Man in the Elevator (Part of The Mission: Memory of a Revolution)

Money/Politics—Image/Word (Heiner Müller speaking during the PEN congress, New York, 1983)

Introduction by Klaudia Ruschkowski and Wolfgang Storch. History in Contemporary Drama (Wisconsin Workshop, 1975)

Video Statement by David Bathrick

Reading of translated excerpts from conference conversation by The Assembly: About History, Drama, Learning-Plays, Brecht and Artaud

Reflections on Post-Modernism (93rd Annual Convention of Modern Language Association, 1978, New York)

Introduction by Andreas Huyssen (NYU)

Reading of Reflections on Post-Modernism by Heiner Müller with The Assembly 


Heiner Müller’s Fatzer + – Keuner (5th Brecht Congress, 28–31 March 1979, University of Maryland, College Park)

Reading of excerpts from Fatzer + – Keuner by The Assembly


Video: The Man in the Elevator (Frankfurt, 1987 and New York, 1989). Excerpts of the staged concerts, with words by Heiner Müller, composed and directed by Heiner Goebbels

Video-Interview: I have to learn to breathe the air of democracy. Heiner Müller in New York, November 1989

Evening Program
6:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. EST (New York) / 3:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. PST (Los Angeles)

Presentations and videos

Panel with Terry Galloway, Andreas Huyssen, Jonathan Kalb (TBC), Bonnie Marranca (TBC), Frank Hentschker, Klaudia Ruschkowski, Wolfgang Storch

Welcome / Introduction by Frank Hentschker, Klaudia Ruschkowski, and Wolfgang Storch

Mauser (Milwaukee, November 1975; Austin, December, 1975)

Andreas Huyssen on Mauser

Terry Galloway, Powerpoint Presentation: Mauser in Austin

Jonathan Kalb on his adaptation of MauserGulliver’s Choice, New York, 2003

Film: A Weekend at the Beach with Jean-Luc Godard (Directed by Ira Schneider, 1979; 1’59’’), Heiner Müller with Jean-Luc Godard, Wim Winders and Jean-Pierre Gorin at San Diego. Memories of Wim Wenders.

Gundling's Life Frederick of Prussia Lessing's Sleep Dream Scream
The Hamletmachine (both written after US visit 1975/76)

Klaudia Ruschkowski and Wolfgang Storch on Gundling's Life Frederick of Prussia Lessing's Sleep Dream Scream (1976; projection of manuscripts)

Film excerpt: Heiner Müller reads in German in Austin, 1978: Leben Gundlings, (Film by Ginka Tscholakowa)

Reading of Lessing’s Sleep Dream Scream by The Assembly 

Frank Hentschker on Hamletmachine and short reading

Film excerpt: Heiner Müller and actress in Bar in Austin, 1978. Reading of Hamletmaschine (Part II and V), Film by Ginka Tscholakowa. 

Bonnie Marranca on Introducing Heiner Müller to the American Theatre

The Mission: Memory of a Revolution (written after US visit 1978) 

Klaudia Ruschkowski and Wolfgang Storch on The Mission: Memory of a Revolution

Jonathan Kalb on The Mission: Memory of a Revolution

Reading of last scene of Heiner Müller‘s The Mission: Memory of a Revolution by The Assmebly

Concluding discussion




Wolfgang Storch was born in 1943 in Berlin. He studied dramatics, art history, and German philology and works as a dramaturg, author, editor, and curator. He was engaged at several German theatres, a.o. Schaubühne and Schillertheater Berlin, Schauspiel Frankfurt, and held professor- and lectureships at Freie Universität Berlin, at Hochschule der Künste Berlin, at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, at the University of Frankfurt a. M. and at the Bavarian Theatre Academy. Since 1975, he writes essays and realizes books, scenic works, shows, workshops, and symposiums on Heiner Müller. From 1997 to 2013 he was a board member of the International Heiner Müller Society. He published writings and curated numerous art exhibitions and programs on the relationship of the arts, on Italy and the Mediterranean, on the Greek Myths, on "Prussia and the poets," on Richard Wagner, Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller, Luchino Visconti, and Jannis Kounellis.


Klaudia Ruschkowski was born in 1959 in Dortmund. She studied German language, literature, and arts and works as a dramaturg, author, translator, and curator. After engagements at several theatres in West and East Germany, she co-founded in 1991 the European Cultural Center in Thuringia, was one of the directors until 1997 and member of the publishing committee of Via Regia, international journal for cultural communication. From 1999 to 2010 she conceived workshops for the International Heiner Müller Society, in collaboration with Wolfgang Storch, and co-edited a series of volumes about Heiner Müller’s plays. She is known as a literature translator from Italian and English, collaborating since 1997 with the poet and painter Etel Adnan. She is the author of radio plays for Deutschlandradio Berlin, a.o. on Pier Paolo Pasolini and the painter Giuseppe Zigaina, on Mary de Rachewiltz and her father Ezra Pound.

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