Waking Up With Strangers

Written by: Paul David Young
Directed by: Mary Beth Smith

An American scholar in Berlin uncovers the dangerous equation behind his attraction to the great German dramatist Heinrich von Kleist, who died in 1811 in a notorious double suicide.
Heinrich von Kleist burned brightly as a genius of the German Romantic era, rising to glory in the feverish artistic circles of Goethe and Schiller, but his suicide on the banks of the lake Wannsee outside of Berlin cut short this meteoric career. By agreement, Kleist shot his friend Henriette Vogel and then himself after taking afternoon coffee by the lake. Kleist’s life and death seemed to capture the simmering eroticism of death in German Romanticism: too bright, too sensitive, too pure for this world, he was fated to die. Kleist’s sensational suicide gained him immediate notoriety and he was soon elevated him into the pantheon of German literary gods. He remains one of the most widely produced German playwrights, and the fascination with his life has only increased as biographers uncovered unmistakable evidence of his bisexuality.
Marc (Marco Formosa) is an American scholar in Berlin, attempting to rewrite a failed dissertation on Kleist. Konrad (Nate Faust), from whom he is letting a room, offers Marc help in understanding his attraction to Kleist and opens up a disturbing confrontation with identity. Konrad’s girlfriend Mina (Ji-Hye Kwon) is pulled into the vortex of their discovery. The life of Kleist (David Marshall) finds its eerie parallels in Marc’s awakening.