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MONDAY DEC 03, 07:00 PM

“Barbed wire, loaded with death, is drawn around our world” (“Dachausong”, 1938)

Close to what would have been Jura Soyfer’s 100th birthday, the Austrian Cultural Forum is pleased to present an evening dedicated to the great Austrian poet, playwright, songwriter, critic, essayist, and novelist. Jura Soyfer was born December 8, 1912 and was murdered at the age of 27 by the Nazis in Buchenwald. His work lives on, and to this day serves as an inspiration for people around the world who are fighting oppression and tyranny.

Actors and producers Stephanie Schmiderer and Markus Hirnigel will read excerpts from Soyfer’s writings, and journalist JM Stim will provide the biographical context.

Born in 1912 on the fringes of the Russian empire to a wealthy industrialist family, Jura Soyfer had to flee his native country shortly after the Bolshewik revolution. Ending up in the city of Vienna, the capital of another empire that came out on the losing end of the Great War, the Jewish teenager took to writing and engaging himself in political causes. From the Mid-Twenties until the Nazi occupation of Austria (“Anschluss”) in 1938, Soyfer would become one of the most politically controversial as well as one of the most productive writers of his time: Starting out as a journalist, he made himself a name as a poet, playwright, songwriter, critic, essayist, and as a novelist, fighting for the rights of the dispossessed, the powerless and the weak. His radical left-wing stance and his ability to nail down timeless, eternal truths about the human condition, earned him the admiration of a small, but devoted circle of followers – and the loathing of his enemies: The Austrian fascists, who took power in 1933 and threw him into jail for apparently no reason, and subsequently the Nazis, who after the “Anschluss” wasted no time in transporting Soyfer to the death camps. First to Dachau, where, together with the composer Herbert Zipper, he gave the inmates an anthem that outlasted their torturers (“Dachausong”), then to Buchenwald, where he died in February 1939, only days after he had been granted a visa to the United States. His parents, who had managed to escape to New York City, were only able to bury what the Nazis had sold them as his remains.


Stephanie Schmiderer (AEA, SAG/AFTRA) hails from Vienna where as actress & producer she has worked in classical and avant-garde theatre. Her N.Y.C. stage credits include amongst others: Ines in Sartre's 'No Exit' ; Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice (one woman show); Dorothy in Priestley's 'They came to a City' ; Emma in Pinter's 'Betrayal'; several roles in 'Spoon River Anthology'; Angustias in Lorca's 'House of Bernarda Alba', and classics such as Goneril (King Lear/Shakespeare) and Arkadina (The Seagull/Chekhov). Most recently she originated the role of Virginia Woolf in the one-woman play 'If My Memories Were Yours' by Kathleen O'Neill. At the Austrian Cultural Forum she appeared in the U.S. premiere of 'The Road to Happiness', a play by Austrian playwright Ursula Knoll, which she co-produced with Markus Hirnigel. U.S. film credits include Agent Moody in the award winning 'Rigodon' (Best Feature/International Independent Film Festival, Athens, Greece), Albert’s Mother in the critically acclaimed 'Kill by Inches', Valeria in 'Daughter of Arabia/Si' Laraby', Sister Edwin in the award winning short film 'Martillo' (Kiev, Russia & Cartagena, Colombia) , and Anna Moritz in the award winning short film 'Haber' (Best of Fest Grand Prize at LA Shorts, Grand Prize Rhode Island International Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival). Most recently she appeared in the Austrian feature The Boundary Man/The Strange Case of Wilhlem Reich with Oscar winning actor Klaus Maria Brandauer.

More information >> stephanieschmiderer.com

Viennese native Markus Hirnigel moved to New York after studying at the University of Vienna. He studied acting with Sandford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse, and worked as a member of la mama E.T.C. for three years, touring Europe and Asia. He returned to Europe to continue studying acting in England at RADA, and worked in productions in London, Oxford,  Edinburgh, and Spoleto, Italy. Elizabeth Swados invited him to participate in her production off “The Hating Pot” at BAM, for which he returned to New York. Markus often returns to Austria to perform in the Salzburg Theater Festival. He recently appeared as Vershinin in a production of the Three Sisters at the Chekhov Festival and has been working with the New Stage Theater Company, an avant-garde theater group in New York City. Last year he collaborated with April Sweeny on her chamber play  She and the empty living room and played the lead in the critically acclaimed Outside Inn, presented at 59 East 59 theater.

JM Stim is a New York-based Austrian writer and journalist. The former war correspondent and sportswriter founded and published the acclaimed Austrian political magazine DATUM and authored the biography of Austrian publishing legend Oscar Bronner, titled Despite everything. His most recent book is Here is Berlin.