When the HDC-Idler production of "Much Ado About Nothing" makes its debut in Sanders Theatre on Wednesday evening, May 23, the directing talents of Fritz Jessner, long a leader of the German stage, will be displayed at Harvard for the first time. He succeeds Mrs. Mark de Wolfe Howe, whose resignation came as a shock to Radcliffe authorities.
From 1924 to 1940, when his religious and political views caused his banishment from the Third Reich, Jessner associated with the important municipal theatres in Koenigsberg and Berne, Switzerland.
Although he was the first to bring a play by John Dos Passos '16 to German audiences, Jessner's career has been associated chiefly with the classics. He directed several of Shakespeare's plays while on the continent, though never "Much Ado About Nothing," and once supervised a six-hour production of Goethe's "Faust."
Jessner's first connection in the United States was with the Yale School of Drama; he has also taught acting at Smith College in recent months. Since his arrival in this country, Jessner says he has found young American acting talent "quicker and easier to teach."
"New Americans," a short subject he directed for Hollywood and in which he played a major role, has been shown in cities all over the country.
Feature of his forthcoming production of "Much Ado About Nothing" will be the lack of elaborate costuming or a curtain. He plans to combine these departures with imaginative lighting in an effort to simulate the theatre of Elizabethan England.