In December 1930 a remarkable theatre show opened in Kleims-Ballroom in Berlin, Neukölln. Inspired by Black theatrical productions in the US and in Paris, the revue ‘Sonnenaufgang im Morgenland‘ (Sunrise in Morningland) was staged by members of the city’s diverse Black population. Written by, and also starring, the Cameroonian actor Bebe Mpessa (better known as Louis Brody), the revue was reported to celebrate African history and to feature a live jazz band. Its staging helps to make evident the transnational connections in which Black Germans were active. Sunrise in Morningland can be seen as both an expression of a diasporic identity in the making as well as one of resistance—resistance against hegemonic stereotypes of race as well as a right-wing backlash against Black performers and Black cultural forms in late Weimar Germany.
Along the Color Line
It is estimated that there are in Germany about 200 Negroes. Most of them are actors and musicians. In Berlin, a colored man named Brody, has gotten together fifty of these colored folk and staged a Revue. Brody was born in the Cameruns, a part of what was formerly German West Africa, and is an educated writer and actor. His revue is a picture of the cultural development of the Negro race. It will be given in a colored theatre, which is a transformed restaurant frequented by colored folk. There are thirty colored men, eight colored women, and three whites. Beside this, there is a band and orchestra of fourteen.
Source: “Along the Color Line,” The Crisis, March 1930, p. 4.
Sunrise in Morningland (1930) by Robbie Aitken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://blackcentraleurope.com/who-we-are/.