Cultures connect in performance

The image of German actress and cabaret performer Marlene Dietrich was recreated on stage in “The Moons of Venus” in Pepsico Recital Hall Thursday night. Associate professor of German Scott Williams organized the event to acknowledge 15 years of German unity.

“It is an important month for Germany, as they celebrate their reunification,” Williams said. “We wanted to do something nice that celebrated German Heritage Day.”

Karen Kohler performed her own interpretations of songs from Dietrich’s films, cabaret shows and the World War II USO tour.

“I call myself an evoker of Marlene, rather than an impersonator,” Kohler said. “If I try too much to be like her, then I cheat both of us.”

Kohler said she has been drawn to Dietrich’s songs for a long time.

“I perform them entirely in my own way, letting her be my inspiration,” Kohler said.

Between each of her songs, Kohler quoted directors, co-stars and admirers of Dietrich, the “moons to her Venus,” she said.

“I let the people who knew her best speak for her life,” Kohler said.

Kohler also said she can identify with Dietrich, as they are both German-American women, with family ties to Berlin.

The event was advertised as a celebration of the cross-cultural connections between America and Germany. Williams said German Heritage Day was recognized at the beginning of the month.

“It was nice to experience culture,” senior communication studies major Adam Marr said. “It was nice to see something a little different at TCU.”

Kohler’s performance was presented by the department of modern languages and literatures, with the German Consulate General in Houston.

The performance was also sponsored by the TCU School of Music, department of theatre, department of English and AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Dietrich was born in Berlin in 1901 and gained recognition as an actress in German films. She later became an American citizen and developed her career in American films and stage shows. She died in Paris in 1992.

“She was very much her own person, very independent,” Williams said. “That was the image Marlene created.