|Channeling the Puckish Charm of a Vexing Mystery:
Vermont Stage Company Presents I Am My Own Wife
Flanked by two adolescent tiger cubs, each as big as he is, a young German boy smiles radiantly and fearlessly for the camera, circa 1938. He has an arm around each cat, and their massive forepaws rest on his knees. Zoo animals, yes, but with ears and eyes unnervingly alert. Either of them could strike the boy down without warning, ferociously devouring him in lethal jaws or merely with one casual swat of the paw.
This boy, Lothar Berfelde, lived a life flanked in his early years by the Third Reich followed by four decades of Communist totalitarianism, in addition to the terror he and his mother suffered under his father's roof. During this time Lothar steadily transformed his identity into that of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. An openly gay transvestite, Charlotte bravely negotiated the minefield of these two consecutive regimes cruelly intolerant of state-defined 'difference.' Lothar's Aunt Luise, whom he revered, lost her beloved to the Nazi euthanasia program - the murder of "undesirables" - in 1935; in her memory, Lothar adopted her name..
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