Calgary Sun Coverage: Survivor’s Story Transcends Gender

By Louis B. Hobson, Calgary Sun, April 19 2013

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf was a survivor.

Photo credit Aaron Bernakevitch
Photo credit Aaron Bernakevitch

She survived an abusive father who became a Nazi and she survived Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

She survived the bombing and partitioning of Berlin and survived the Communists who ruled East Germany.

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf’s greatest feat of survival was living most of her 72 years openly and proudly as a transgender person.

She was born Lothar Berfelde but chose to be Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.

In 2003, Doug Wright’s one-man play I Am My Own Wife took New York by storm winning the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and ultimately the Pulitzer Prize.

The play has been a runaway hit across the world and Calgary’s Third Street Theatre is bringing I Am Own Wife to the Epcor Centre’s Motel Theatre on its 10th anniversary with Paul Welch in the tour de force role.

“I play 36 characters and in some scenes I play as many as six different people,” says Welch who explains “it’s not the number of characters that is taxing but rather the German accents I have to use.”

Welch is a voice, speech and text coach but for this play he asked dialect coach Jane McFarlane to work with him to ensure his performance is as authentic as possible.

It was director Kevin McKendrick who brought the project to Welch who enthusiastically embraced the assignment.

“This play fits perfectly into Third Street Theatre’s mandate of producing work that engages and educates the community on relevant social issues pertaining to the often-marginalized queer community,” says Welch.

I Am My Own Wife runs April 24 through May 4 at 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on April 28 and May 4.

Tickets which are $20 and $15 are cash only at the door but can be reserved at info@thirdstreet.ca.

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