Sunday, May 22, 2011

Germany -- Karl May Festival anniversaries

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

This year, two of the biggest Karl May festivals in Germany are celebrating milestone anniversaries.

The Karl May Festtage in Radebeul -- the town outside of Dresden where May lived, and where there has been a Karl May Museum since the 1920s -- marks its 20th anniversary with this year's edition, June 3-5.

Special feature will be the participation of Pierre Brice -- the French actor who won fame (and stole the hearts of girls all over Europe) by playing Winnetou in the German-made movies in the 1960s. I myself was one of these girls -- I saw my first Winnetou movie ("Old Shatterhand") in Prague in 1966, and I still have the pictures of Brice I bought or cut out of Czech magazines at the time.

In addition, the Karl May Spiele in Bad Segeberg, north of Hamburg -- the biggest and oldest Karl May Festival -- is celebrating its 60th anniversary this season! The festival runs from June 25-Sept. 4 and will feature a performance of "The Oil Prince" -- based on Karl May's classic book -- on its outdoor stage. Erol Sander stars as Winnetou, and Joshy Peters as Old Shatterhand (I saw Peters in this role in 2003).

Next year -- 2012 -- marks the 100th anniversary of Karl May's death, and many events are being planned.

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