Goethe Institute of Thessaloniki pays a tribute to Karl Valentin

Karl Valentin, born Valentin Ludwig Fey in Munich in 1882, was a pioneer of German folk theater and one of the early 20th century’s most prominent stage and screen artists. Abandoning his vocation as a carpenter, young Valentin began singing in Munich’s cabarets in 1911, becoming a popular entertainer in a rapidly changing country. An unassuming, funny-looking man, he started creating small stage monologues and short films that revealed the humorous aspect of a helpless man trapped in a complex society using a very concise narrative style. Indeed, the farcical elements of work soon put him at the forefront of the Theater of the Absurd as he mocked horror and played with folk art inspired by Dadaism. The Goethe Institute of Thessaloniki is paying homage to the prolific German artist with screenings of some of his films tonight, tomorrow and next Monday and Tuesday, and a performance of small sketches from his extensive theatrical production this Friday. Tonight’s screenings, starting at 8.30, spans the period of Valentin’s work between 1913 to 1923 in which he used this relatively new medium – which at that time was still silent – to experiment on forms of expression based on his stage experience. Tomorrow evening’s screening features the film Der Sonderling (1929), a comparatively long film that shows the depths of Valentin’s eccentricity and his fascination with melodrama and romance. Monday’s screenings, spanning the period 1932-1934, show Valentin’s first attempts to work with sound, where greater technological advances and the artist’s better grasp of the medium allowed him to express the humorous and satirical sides of his art. The tribute ends on Tuesday with a bitter twist, as it looks at the final years of Valentin’s work (1934-1936), produced in the shadow of a Germany under dictatorship. This Friday’s theatrical performance, also to be held at the Goethe Institute, will be performed by the Stavroupolis Municipal Theater Workshop, directed and created by Isavella Martzopoulou. The performance, though in Greek, shows the extent of Valentin’s use of language, and his love for situation comedy and word-play. In general terms, the second part of the book focuses on the way in which an entire financial system was created around raisin farming, such as wine making, trade, and small and large-scale industry.

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