Mein Freund Harvey / My Friend Harvey

By Mary Chase
German translation by Alfred Polgar
Elwood P. Dowd is an entirely unremarkable man. Of middle age and medium height, he is extremely polite and courteous. Ever since he met Harvey under a street lamp one night, Elwood and Harvey have been inseparable. They go to the park together, to concerts and to the pub. Elwood shares everything with Harvey: his house, his thoughts, his newspaper subscription.

There’s only one thing: Harvey is a gigantic white rabbit. A nine-foot puca. Extremely polite, extremely courteous, extremely invisible. Because no one but Elwood has ever laid eyes on Harvey.

This is no problem for Elwood, he doesn’t seem to take any notice at all. But it is indeed a problem for Elwood’s sister Veta Louise and her daughter Myrtle Mae. Because they share a house with Elwood (and perhaps with Harvey) and they are feeling more and more isolated. After all, whom can you invite for dinner, when Elwood will introduce the big white rabbit to all visitors once dessert is served? There is no question: Something must be done!

Veta decides to place Elwood in Professor Chumley’s institution. However, the longer Elwood stays at the clinic, the less sure we can be that Harvey really doesn’t exist. Because more and more people – including Veta and Professor Chumley – seem to come face to face with Harvey. And what will become of the friendly, generous and kind Elwood once the treatment has removed the rabbit and left him with nothing but harsh reality?

Following “Der Gott des Gemetzels (The God of Carnage)” and “Der nackte Wahnsinn (Noises Off)”, Schauspiel Leipzig continues its series of theatre comedies: “Mein Freund Harvey (My Friend Harvey)” was playwright Mary Chase’s third play. It received a Pulitzer Prize in 1945 and its Broadway premiere was followed by 1775 shows. The 1950 film adaptation starring James Stewart brought worldwide fame to the big white rabbit. But “My Friend Harvey” remains what it has always been: a wonderful theatre comedy and a charming plea for tolerance, a plea for the big white rabbit in all of our lives.

After “Der Gott des Gemetzels” and “Der nackte Wahnsinn”, Enrico Lübbe will once again direct this season’s comedy. The set will be designed by Etienne Pluss, who, apart from his work with Enrico Lübbe (most recently “Die Maßnahme / Die Perser” and “FAUST” in Leipzig and “Elektra” at Oper Bonn), regularly works with directors Adriana Altaras and Claus Guth, most recently for “La Bohème” at Opéra Bastille Paris and “Violetter Schnee” at Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin. Future projects will lead Etienne Pluss to Moscow’s Bolshoi-Theatre and the New York Metropolitan Opera.
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Premiere on January 18, 2020


ca. 2:30, one break


Michael Pempelforth as Elwood P. Dowd
Annett Sawallisch as Veta Louise Simmons, his widowed sister
Katharina Schmidt, Nicole Widera as Myrtle Mae, whose daughter
Dirk Lange as Omar Gaffney, attorney for the Dowd family
Denis Petković as Dr. William R. Chumley, psychiatrist
Anne Cathrin Buhtz as Betty Chumley, his wife / Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet
Julia Berke as Ruth Kelly, head nurse at Chumley's sanitarium
Thomas Braungardt as Marvin Wilson, employee of the sanatorium
Julius Forster as Dr. Lyman Sanderson, psychiatrist
Christoph Müller as E. J. Lofgreen, Taxi chauffeur


Director: Enrico Lübbe
Stage Designer: Etienne Pluss
Costume Designer: Bianca Deigner
Dramaturgy: Torsten Buß
Light: Ralf Riechert
Audiodescription: Maila Giesder-Pempelforth, Matthias Huber, Renate Lehmann, Beatrix Hermens
Theatre pedagogy: Amelie Gohla