THE MUSICAL


The play focuses on three key stages in von Harbou's life: her reluctant initiation into the craziness of making silent films in Germany, then her leadership among German screenwriters of the sound era, and finally her survival and intense personal sacrifice during the Second World War and the Post-War period.
​The "moon" is the German film industry, which enjoyed a strangely protected status through the Second World War and was generally immune to changing economic and political conditions--at least, for anyone who didn't happen to be Jewish.

Act One


Act One begins in 1919, at the dawn of the anything-goes Weimar era.  Thea von Harbou is in her early thirties, married to actor Rudolph Klein-Rogge and an established novelist, but an offer to adapt one of her stories for the movies leads her to a chance meeting with the charismatic director Fritz Lang, with whom she begins a passionate affair while writing screenplays for him. Their collaborations are great successes, and eventually they marry. However, Lang's repeated affairs wtih his films' leading ladies pushes Thea away and leads her into an affair with Ayi Tendulkar, a student from India and her junior by nineteen years. The first act ends in 1933 as the election of Hitler brings the Weimar era crashing to a close and a flood of artists and intellectuals--including Fritz lang--abandon their country en masse. But Thea von Harbou is determined not surrender the motion picture industry to the Nazis--she will stay!
Act Two
Act Two picks up her story as the Nazi era begins.  Now a leader among German screenwriters, Thea von Harbou is struggles to keep the "moon" in orbit, resisting censorship and prejudice while simultaneously protecting Jewish friends and aiding her Indian lover's fellow students. Eventually summoned to a Nazi council to explain her relationship with a non-Aryan man, she realizes that she is no longer on the "moon." To save her lover, she commits an act of great personal sacrifice and sends him back to India for his own safety. At great personal cost, she also joins the Nazi party to provide political leverage to the remaining Berlin Indians supporting the cause of Indian independence from British rule. When the war ends, von Harbou is interned in a British concentration camp for Nazi party members. Undaunted, she is interrogated and cleared of any accusations of war crimes, but she is blacklisted from the film industry. A true survivor, she then becomes one of the Trümmerfrauen, the women who used their bare hands to clear away the war rubble in the streets of Berlin. Shortly before her death, she returns to a film industry that has largely forgotten how she helped mature from a childish pasttime to become a major artistic force.

Find out more