Friday, May 20, 2011
Son of Cabaret Ping Pong star in Puget Sound
The other day, I had the chance to have dinner with Efram Wolff and his wife Annie.
Wolff is the son of Kurt Egon Wolff (photo right) who was the conferencier of Cabaret Ping Pong (left), the earliest exile cabaret in Holland.
Ping Pong opened in Amsterdam in 1933. It included many performers from Berlin's Catacombs cabaret. Prominent members included chanteuse Dora Gerson and dancers Chaya Goldstein (see blog entry Nov 22, 2008) and Julia Marcus. Composer and singer Curt Bry also joined the troupe.
The Ping Pong shows were decidedly anti militarist and political, including texts by Brecht, Holaender, Kastner and Tucholsky. Because of problems renewing their permit, Ping Pong moved to Switzerland for a year. They returned to Holland with the agreement to add Dutch performers to the bill. With the major stars developing solo careers, the troupe eventually broke up.
Wolff survived the war by moving to England and eventually to Los Angeles where had a career with the music department of Warner Brothers.
Chaja Goldstein was in Kamp Westerbork but survived the war. Marcus made it to Paris and continued to perform and help other dancers escape the Nazis. Bry also escaped and made it to America. Dora Gerson was about to cross the border to safety with her children. She refused the suggestion to give a sedative to her children to keep them quiet. One of them coughed, exposing them to the Nazis. They all died in Auschwitz.
Efrom Wolff is a print maker and sculptor on Vashon Island ( http://eframwolff.net/index.html ). His wife is also an artist working with found-objects and collage.
Source: Berlin Cabaret by Peter Jelavich, Harvard University Press 1993