Leo Kerz

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Leo Kerz (1912-1976) was an art director, production, set and lighting designer for stage, film and TV.


Born in Berlin, Germany, on 1 November 1912, where he studied with Bertolt Brecht and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, as well as at the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and began his career in Berlin, from 1927 as an assistant stage designer for Erwin Piscator.

He escaped Nazi Germany in 1933, living and working in London, Amsterdam, Prague, and for a while in South Africa, before immigrating to the US in 1942, where he became a Broadway scenic and lighting designer (1944 - 1973).

He was married to New York based theatre historian Louise (Manning) Kerz. Kerz died on 4 November 1976, New York City.

His contribution to South African theatre and performance

He came to South Africa in193*, directing and working on a number of plays in Cape Town and Johannesburg. He founded the Pioneer Theatre in Johannesburg, and between 1938 and 1941 produced (and probably designing and directing) a number of avant garde plays, including Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, (1938); Gas (1938); What Next Baby? (1939); Miracle at Verdun (1939); Odets's Golden Boy (1940) and The Cradle Will Rock (1941).


The South African Theatre, Music and Dance 1(1), 1939. 34-35.


Center for Jewish History, Leo Kerz Collection, 1959-1970[1]

Orville Kurth Larson, 1989.Scene Design in the American Theatre from 1915 to 1960, pp. 143-4. [2]

"Kerz, Leo" in: Martin Banham 1995. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre, p.599[3]

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