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The Captain of Köpenick @ The National Theatre

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Shoemaker, Soldier, Thief

I find the story of Wilhelm Voigt quite amusing. The Prussian was born in 1849, and was a troublemaker right from the get go. At fourteen years old he was already a petty thief, and he was constantly in and out of prison for stealing.

After being released from a fifteen year sentence, Voigt went to Berlin and (for once) bought bits and pieces of a captain's uniform from various shops. Putting on his makeshift disguise, he wandered on to an army barracks and started ordering soldiers around. They completely fell for it and did everything he said, including arresting the city's treasurer and mayor. It was only a few days later the German military realised that they had been duped.

Voigt was arrested, but later pardoned because the Kaiser found the incident so amusing. Apparently so did others, because only four days after the event, the wax museum put a figure of him on display. Voigt was lovingly given the nick name Captain Kopenick, and he started touring the country, visiting theatres, amusement parks, and restaurants.

The story of Captain Kopenick's escapade was turned into a play by Carl Zuckmayer in 1931, and there have since been other productions. Now, director, Adrian Noble has made his own comedy of the events, to be shown at the National theatre between the 29th January - 4th April. Showings will be at 2pm and 7.30pm, with tickets £12-£47.

There will be audio-described performances on the 22nd March at 7.30pm, and the 23th March at 2pm, which includes a 12.30pm touch tour. This will be followed by a captioned performance on the 3rd Apr at 7.30pm.

To accompany the play, Adrian Noble will give a talk on the 5th March at 6pm. Tickets are £4.
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Why? Laughter is good for the soul
When: 29th Jan - 4th April
Phone: 020 7452 3000
Where: National Theatre
Cost: £12-£47
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