Eric Krebs's 'MY FATHER'S VOICE' Will Run at The Playroom Theater This Fall
The Playroom Theater will present My Father's Voice: Letters From Ellis Island and The War in the Pacific 1938-1945, conceived and performed by Eric Krebs at The Playroom Theater (151 West 46th Street - just east of Broadway). Performances will begin on Monday, October 10 at 7pm and play every Monday through December 19. Christopher Scott directs.
In 1938, Richard Krebs, a German seaman, jumped ship in Newport News, Virginia and vanished into America. In December 1940, under the name Jan Valtin, he published the autobiography of his life, first as a communist revolutionist serving Stalin, next, as a Gestapo prisoner of the Third Reich, and finally of his escape from both of them. It became a national sensation. In 1942 he was imprisoned on Ellis Island as an enemy alien. In 1944-45 he served the United States as a combat infantryman in the jungles in the Pacific War.
"I have lived 60 years aware of my father's very popular 1941 autobiography, "Out of the Night," says Mr. Krebs. "It was controversial. It was shocking. It was extremely important in America as the US became engaged in World War II. What I never had a personal connection to was the time from 1942-1945 when my father was first arrested as an enemy alien and held in the prison on Ellis Island and then, when he was released, his quest to be the best soldier that he could be for the American Army. When my mother passed away in 2007, my brother found cartons of moldering letters in her tool shed in California. It has taken nearly ten years for me to come to grips with the passion, beauty and despair of his life at that time, and to attempt to share them 65 years after they were written."
The performance schedule for My Father's Voice will be: Mondays at 7pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at www.theplayroomtheater.com or by calling 866-811-4111. The performance runs 80 minutes.
Richard Julius Hermann Krebs (December 17, 1905 - January 1, 1951), better known by his alias Jan Valtin, was a German writer during the interwar period. He settled to the United States in 1938, and in 1940 (as Valtin) wrote his bestselling book Out of the Night. Krebs became active in the Communist movement as a boy, when his father was involved in the naval mutiny that heralded the German Revolution of 1918-19. In 1923, he saw action in the failed Communist insurgency in Hamburg. Sometime after this he joined the German Communist Party, but was later expelled. In 1926, Krebs entered the United States illegally and settled in California. He spent 38 months in San Quentin State Prison for attempting to murder a merchant navy seaman during a brawl, and then was deported to Germany in 1929. He worked as a seaman until 1934, when he was arrested and tortured, and acted as a witness for prosecution in a trial that brought to the conviction of a fellow German seaman accused of treason. In 1938, he returned to the United States to settle, this time under his most famous alias, Jan Valtin - where he published the highly publicized autobiography Out of the Night. In the book he described in detail the actions he had carried on as a secret agent of the Soviet GPU. The 1926 attempted murder was described by Krebs/Valtin as a GPU operation. The book received great critical acclaim. A 1940 review for the Saturday Review of Literature reads: "No other books more clearly reveals the aid which Stalin gave to Hitler before he won power." As a result, he Valtin/Krebs was invited to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee as regards Soviet secret activities in Europe. Valtin/Krebs married again, before 1941, to Abigail Harris, an American. In November 1942, Krebs was also indicted as a Gestapo agent. He was arrested in December 1942 and found innocent in May 1943. The Los Angeles court record revealed that the 1926 crime had no political purpose. In August 1943, Krebs was drafted as an infantryman and deployed in February 1944 to the Philippines in fighting the Japanese in the Pacific War. In 1946, his book Children of Yesterday, an anecdotal history of the 24th Infantry Division was published, describing in graphic detail the horrors of the fighting and everyday life of the division's troops. He was granted citizenship in 1947 and died in 1951.
Eric Krebs has been a theatrical producer for over 40 years. On Broadway he produced Electra, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, Bill Maher in his Victory Begins at Home, Avery Brooks in Paul Robeson and Neil Simon's The Dinner Party. His Broadway productions have received 10 Tony Award nominations. Off-Broadway, his producing career began in 1977 with The Passion of Dracula. Since then, he produced over 40 productions, including Sam Shepard's Fool For Love, Neil LaBute's Bash, The Capitol Steps, and most recently, a 15-month run of the hit show The Bullpen and A Class Act, a new play by attorney Norman Shabel, which just concluded a run at New World Stages. That Physics Show, recipient of the 2016 Drama Desk Award for "Unique Theatrical Experience" continues to delight and amaze audiences Off Broadway at The Elektra Theatre.