Dagmar Manzel

Edith Sitwell: Mein exzentrisches Leben
(Edith Sitwell: Taken Care Of)

excerpts from texts by and about Edith Sitwell
read by Dagmar Manzel

arranged by Gerhard Ahrens

"If one is a Greyhound, why try to look like a Pekinese?"
Edith Sitwell

The poet Edith Sitwell, daughter of aristocratic parents, rapidly made a name for herself as a lyricist, biographer and eccentric in the 1920s. Sitwell daringly experimented with the musical qualities of language; likening it to jazz music, she saw rhythm as the middleman between dream and reality. With a nod to Dadaism, she frequently recited her – notoriously shocking – verses through a megaphone whilst standing behind a curtain.

In America, the breathtaking intensity of her sleepwalking scene as Lady Macbeth caused men to faint; they had to be carried out of the theatre. In the 1930s, she wrote books about 'English eccentrics' and a biography of Queen Victoria. Her best poems were about the war. Her well-known poem Still Falls the Rain tells of the Luftwaffe's terrible air raids on London. In 1954, Queen Elisabeth II conferred the title Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire onto 'England's greatest living poet'. Dame Edith Sitwell died at the age of 77 in 1964, shortly after she had completed her autobiography Taken Care Of.

Taking us on an exploration of Edith Sitwell's world will be the actress and singer Dagmar Manzel, a member of the cast at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and also at home on the big and the small screen. She is currently appearing at Berlin's Komische Oper in Arnold Schönberg's melodrama Pierrot Lunaire, and brings a magnetism to her performances that you cannot escape.