Jonathan Lichtenstein is Professor of Drama in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex.
An award-winning playwright, Jonathan trained at Bretton Hall. His first stage play Station opened at the Soho Theatre in London in 2000. His following two plays, Moving the Scrolls and Human Rights, were both broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
His stage play The Pull of Negative Gravity, about the burden placed on the families of soldiers suffering from P.T.S.D., opened at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival in 2004. The play transferred to the Colchester Mercury Theatre Studio and then to 59E59 Theatre in New York, and has since been produced in Sydney, Washington and Florida and in repertoire as Überwindung der Schwerkraftat the Dresden Staatsschauspiel.
His play Memory, directed by Terry Hands, was chosen as ‘pick of the week’ by The Sunday Times and played at Theatr Clwyd in Wales, and subsequently in New York, London and Chicago. “The writing is keenly observed and emotionally resonant,” said The New York Times, “Hardly a false note is struck in any of the play’s various strands, an impressive achievement given the breadth of its reach, from Berlin in the 1930s to Bethlehem today.”
Jonathan’s most recent play Darkness is about Christian Fundamentalism and was performed at Zoo Roxy at the Edinburgh Festival and then at the Lakeside Theatre in 2011.
Jonathan is currently collaborating as the writer with the Bharatanatyam dancer Shane Shambhu on a play titled My Inside Playground, which is due to tour this year.
In addition to the above, Jonathan has had commissions from The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and BBC Radio 4, and has had two attachments at The National Theatre Studio.
Jonathan lives in Wivenhoe, a village on the Essex Marshes, with his wife and three children.
The Berlin Shadow is his first book.
Rights : Scribner, Simon & Schuster (UKCexC)
A formally audacious and deeply moving memoir in three timeframes that confronts the defining trauma of the twentieth century, and its effects on a father and son.
In 1939, Jonathan Lichtenstein’s father Hans escaped Nazi-occupied Berlin as a child refugee on the Kindertransport. Almost every member of his family died after Kristallnacht, and, arriving in England to make his way in the world alone, Hans turned his back on his German Jewish culture.
Growing up in post-war rural Wales where the conflict was never spoken of, Jonathan and his siblings were at a loss to understand their father’s relentless drive and erratic behaviour. As Hans enters old age, he and Jonathan set out to retrace his journey back to Berlin. This is a highly compelling account of a father and son’s attempt to emerge from the shadows of history.
For readers who enjoyed East West Street and The Hare with the Amber Eyes, The Berlin Shadow is a beautiful memoir whose themes - of family secrets, the trauma passed down through generations, and the relationship between adult children and parents in their twilight years - will resonate widely. The book is also a celebration of the Kindertransport, an organised act of altruism- although realised amidst considerable domestic opposition at the time - that saved the lives of some 10,000 refugee children. Many of these children went on to make significant contributions in their adopted homeland and beyond (including, for example, four that became Nobel Prize winners). The book therefore offers an important and timely perspective on contemporary debates about immigration.