Amerika or The Disappearance

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When Karl Rossmann steps off the boat in New York Harbor, he is thrust into a whirlwind of adventures. The world he discovers in “Amerika” is beautiful and grotesque—he finds work in a hotel with forty-seven elevators, shares a room with a magnificently rotund opera singer named Brunelda, and seeks out the fantastical Nature Theater of “Oklahama,” where hundreds of actors dressed as angels play trumpets from atop golden pedestals.

Begun in 1911 and never finished, Kafka’s first novel is a wild fantasy of the New World, drawn from travelogues, news reports, and a hefty dose of his own imagination. Both a utopian vision of the future and a nightmare of capitalist excess, Amerika represents the little-known, more playful side of this great twentieth-century master. After a hugely successful collaboration on The Miser, the A.R.T. welcomes back director Dominique Serrand and the Theatre de la Jeune Lune for this exciting world premiere.

The bridge that joins New York and Boston hung graceful over the Hudson, and trembled when you screwed up your eyes.—Franz Kafka, from Amerika

Produced in association with Theatre de la Jeune Lune and Montclair State University’s Office of Arts & Cultural Programming.


The seventeen year-old Karl Rossmann has been banished to Amerika by his parents, because a maid seduced him and had a child by him. As his ship arrives in New York Harbor he realizes that he has left his umbrella below deck, and he sets out to retrieve it. Karl meets the ship’s Stoker, who is lodging a complaint against a fellow employee. Through a series of extraordinary coincidences, Karl finds himself representing the Stoker before his long lost uncle, now a state senator and a shipping magnate.

Karl’s uncle takes him to his New York apartment, where he learns English and the National Anthem. It isn’t long, though, before the boy is swept up once again in a whirlwind of adventures that leads him to a mysterious country estate, a massive hotel where he works as one of forty-seven elevator boys, and the secret hideout of Brunelda, a soprano so large you might mistake her for a sofa. In each episode the characters that Karl meets, and the adventures they lead him through, become increasingly grotesque, until he arrives at the strangest place of all—the infamous Nature Theater of Oklahama.

Special Thanks to Production Sponsors
Phil and Hilary Burling
Hod and Cassandra Irvine
Cokie and Lee Perry


Karl Nathan Keepers
Fanny Sarah Agnew
On the Ship
Stoker Steven Epp
Captain Remo Airaldi
Chief Cashier Thomas Derrah
Uncle Jacob Will LeBow
Schubal Peter Cambor
At Uncle Jacob’s
English Teacher Jorge Rubio
Pollunder Thomas Derrah
Ancient Servant Jeremy Geidt
At Pollunder’s
Klara Deborah Knox
Green Remo Airaldi
On the Road
Innkeeperess Will LeBow
Delamarche Steven Epp
Robinson Thomas Derrah
Waitress Deborah Knox
At the Hotel Occidental
Head Cook Steven Epp
Therese Katori Hall
Renell Jorge Rubio
Bess Peter Cambor
Head Waiter Will LeBow
Head Porter Remo Airaldi
At Brunelda’s
Policeman Peter Cambor
Brunelda Christine Teeters
Student Jorge Rubio
set design Riccardo Hernandez
costume design Sonya Berlovitz
lighting design Marcus Dillard
sound design David Remedios