Hugo Ball + Emmy Hennings: Cabaret Voltaire 1916

Hugo Ball + Emmy Hennings: Cabaret Voltaire 1916

Why does this inspire?
In the face of almost universal War fever, a theatrical bohemian called Hugo Ball and his partner Emmy Hennings set up a nightclub for anti-war intellectuals and avant garde artists who have decided to sit out the War in Switzerland. The DADA movement grew from this humble beginning. I’ve often wondered if James Joyce, and Albert Einstein, who were both in Zurich around this period, ever went to the Cabaret Voltaire.. What did it feel like to be there? Would you have been aware that history was being made?

“In 1914, when I was thinking over the plan for a new theatre, I was convinced of this: a theatre which experiments beyond the realm of day to day preoccupations. Europe paints, composes and writes verse in a new way. A fusion, not merely of all art, but of all regenerative ideas. The background of colours, words and sounds must be brought out from the subconcious and given life, so that it engulfs everyday life and all it’s misery.” (Hugo Ball)
“In 1915, Hugo Ball became the chief organiser of the Cabaret Voltaire, a club that attracted expatriot artists and intellectuals in Zurich to escape World War  Ball wrote of Cabaret Voltaire “I was sure that there must be a few young people in Switzerland who like me were interested not only in enjoying their independence but giving proof of it. Cabaret Votaire, which has as it’s sole purpose to draw attention, across the barriers of war and nationalism, to the few independent spirits who live for other ideals”

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