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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio, in a work that combines Nazism and personal history

They have shared friendship and profession for more than 40 years, but curiously they had never worked together. Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio are lifelong friends and enemies on stage, in The Hunter and the Good Nazi what are they presenting Mondays at 8:30 p.m. in El Tinglado.

The play, written by Mario Diament and directed by Daniel Marcove, reflects the real meeting they had, in 1975, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and Nazi Albert Speer, former architect and Minister of Armaments to Adolf Hitler. That face to face event took place in the Documentation Center office that Wiesenthal had in Vienna.

What happened between these two men that day, their dialogues, their points of view, responsibilities, complicity and justice, are some of the themes reflected in Diament’s text and from which several questions arise. Among them, to discover if it is possible a dialogue between a murderous Nazi hierarch and a victim of the Holocaust.

Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio share the stage for the first time with a story based on a true event.  Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez.

Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio share the stage for the first time with a story based on a true event. Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez.

an extra thrill

The story, brought to the stage, also has some elements, outside of that encounter, that add an extra emotion. On the one hand, the fact that part of Noher’s family was in the concentration camps during world war II.

On the other hand, the fact that the director offered both actors to do the work without knowing about their close bond of several decades. Everything was given, almost like destiny, so that The Hunter and the Good Nazi I had these protagonists.

-How did you become friends?

Nighter: -With Ernie we met doing the entrance exam to the first year for Agustín Alezzo’s workshop, in 1976. It was the last first year in which the teacher taught. Then his disciples followed. There were more than 300 registered and they only accepted about 25 or 30.

-Between them, you.

Nighter: -That’s how it is. We ran into each other in a bar near the workshop, we were studying, we had to prepare a monologue and memorize it. Something funny happened because I had prepared a dialogue and Ernesto told me: ‘that was not the slogan’. Alezzo let me do the same. He liked it, but it wasn’t what he had ordered.

Claudius: -You were always very original. It was done, he had no choice but to go through with it. When they published the list of those accepted it said: Ernesto Claudio and the dialogue. (laughs)

Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio: 40 years of friendship.  Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez.

Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio: 40 years of friendship. Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez.

Nighter: -We were in our twenties and then we studied together for eight years, preparing scenes; we were typical drama students. We bowled and distributed photos on the canals. But we also shared family vacations and we even had a business together.

Claudius: -It was a place belonging to his father, who sold pilots and jackets, in Florida and Viamonte. We attended there.

Noher:-More than a friendship, ours is a brotherhood. We are like family. He met my old man (N. of the R: Patrick Noher, former vice president of River Plate), to all my family, and I met his.

Alezzo’s presence

In 1983, Alezzo sent them to work. “To the stages!, he told us”, says Noher. “That was like an abyss, but at the same time it was a very nice permission.”

Claudio adds to the memory: “He told us: ‘You have been arguing with me for several years and many times you are right. What else can I do?”.

In tribute to Alezzo, both actors also agreed to give their respective children Agustín, as a second name.

The Hunter and the Good Nazi, a play with Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio.  Photo: Juanjo Calafell.

The Hunter and the Good Nazi, a play with Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio. Photo: Juanjo Calafell.

-Despite such closeness, they had never coincided working.

Nighter: -Incredibly, the work afterwards never brought us together. Not a scene! Until in December of last year Daniel Marcove called me and told me about a project. From the outset I told him that he was not going to be able to, because of other jobs in Brazil and Bolivia. Not knowing what it was about, I didn’t want to commit. However, the next day, I don’t know why, I called him and asked him to read the play.

Claudius: His curiosity was piqued.

Nighter: -When I read it I felt that it was a work sent to me by my grandparents who died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz, my father’s parents. I felt it was a moral duty that I couldn’t stop doing it.

-The director did not know anything about that family history of yours?

Nighter: -I knew absolutely nothing. Actually my dad didn’t talk about that subject and there are things that I found out a short time ago. My dad had escaped dressed as an altar boy, at the age of 13, from the Vénissieux concentration camp in France, but he had no further details.

The story of Rolf Noher

Two years ago, thanks to a television appearance by Noher, a woman who is investigating this historical fact contacted the actor from France, when she recognized a surname that caught her attention. And she told him about the case in which, due to a special circumstance, 112 children had been saved from death in France.

One of those children was Rolf Noher (pronounced Noger). “It was my dad, who later became French and was called Patrick Noher,” he says. “The situation arose due to a legal vacuum in which several parents decided to deliver their children to save them, dressed as an altar boy. My grandparents were among those parents. There are written letters, all documented. I found out the details later. It is very strong all”.

Claudius: -Imagine the situation of those parents! Just thinking about it gives her goosebumps.

The Hunter and the Good Nazi, a play with Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio.  Photo: Juanjo Calafell.

The Hunter and the Good Nazi, a play with Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio. Photo: Juanjo Calafell.

Nighter: -The legacy of my old man is impressive: he never victimized himself and that left him with a unique drive for life. We arrived in Argentina with nothing and he was a hero. When the show ends, the feeling that remains is that we are all survivors, not only of the Holocaust, but also of the pandemic, for example. He challenges us all somewhere. The work is, unfortunately, so current…

-The Holocaust seems distant in time, but it follows its traces, its wounds are still present.

Claudius: -It seems that the world never stops learning certain things. There are historians who speak of events that, time later, it is as if they were repeated. The work refers to something particular, but it affects any story anywhere in the world where there is someone who cannot think what he wants, or does not feel free.

Noher:-There is no doubt that this work is a reflection of all kinds of genocide, of injustice. And of the history of the survivors.

Claudius: -That’s why it’s very nice to hear the emotion. At times the laughter and even the silence, by the public that in one way or another feels touched.

-It is also good to tell new generations what the Holocaust was; It doesn’t hurt to refresh that message.

Nighter: -And with a piece like this that, although it is hard, also addresses the subject even with humor.

Claudius: -The approach is very ironic. But it’s also a way to make it more accessible.

Noher:-The pandemic locked us up, isolated us and filled us with fear. Now, little by little, we are being reborn. Making a work like this, which is not an economic business, is clearly a life choice. There is nothing that fills me more for everything it represents and what happens with the public.

The entry of Ernesto Claudio

The Hunter and the Good Nazi, a play with Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio, at El Tinglado.

The Hunter and the Good Nazi, a play with Jean Pierre Noher and Ernesto Claudio, at El Tinglado.

-How was your incorporation to the work, Ernesto?

Claudius: -I had not planned to do theater, because I had been with him for a few years. Knock KnockAnd I didn’t feel like doing more. Marcove had also called me on a project that he had said no to. And it was this. He called me back a few months later and told me that the other actor thought I was ideal for one of the characters. The actor was Jean Pierre. He was very exciting.

-All the signs indicated that they had to do it.

Claudius: Yes, it is like a dream. The truth is that we work very well together. It is seen that the whole story that is under the stage, in some way, is transferred to what we are telling. We knew how to take advantage of it and it is good for the benefit of the work.

-They are playing two characters from real life and in an encounter that also existed. Is it an extra responsibility?

Nighter: -Diament had three interviews with Wiesenthal and gave us many details that served to compose the characters. For example, it seems that Wiesenthal was quite cool and in his office he had photos with many celebrities: with Liz Taylor, with the Dalai Lama, with Ben Kingsley. He was also histrionic and told jokes, something that reminded me of my old man, so it’s also a bit of a tribute to him.

-There is a very particular contrast to these two personalities that makes the exchange more interesting.

Claudius: -At the opposite pole, ideologically. In the case of Speer, my character, I began to investigate because he had something very particular: he managed to convince everyone who was at the Nuremberg trial that he, being one of Hitler’s closest friends, had no idea about the Holocaust. . There you realize the extraordinary intelligence that he had.

-A very complex character.

Claudius: -It was a difficult process putting it together. Speer also had a very special histrionics, a charisma that saved him from the gallows, although he was imprisoned for twenty years, after that historical trial that was very rigorous. The best thing is that each character completes and complements the other. Speer’s image, as “the good Nazi”, served to justify many Germans. He was a great human swindle.

-In Germany, denialism has a specific penalty. Not everything is the same, and that is an interesting debate, taking into account some comments from close politicians that have been heard lately, for example.

Nighter: -As it is. Wiesenthal questions this all the time: how is it possible that a large majority did not realize what was happening? He ponders if everything can be forgiven. And in the play he seeks Speer’s confession.

Claudius: -In the case of Speer it is interesting to think why he is going to see Wiesenthal, who is the one who wants to catch him, since he is the last link he has left. Speer accepts the invitation because he believes that he will be able to convince him too. That duel is very good, two guys who measure each other with every word.

Nighter: -When they talk about the number of files that Wiesenthal has in the office, he gets excited and seems like a salesman for Eleven, telling him about his products. Also, they both wrote books.

Claudius: -Speer wrote in prison, all on sheets of toilet paper, very significant.

As they enjoy sharing the stage for the first time, both actors think about continuing with the play, “as much as we can.” Claudio will continue in parallel with the functions of Knock Knock, at the Comafi Multitheater. The intention, moreover, is to take it to schools and institutions where it can be debated.

“It would be very nice to be able to do that,” they say. “The theater heals us. And it’s good that it also heals others.”

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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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