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Maria Ley-Piscator

Maria Ley-Piscator

Austrian dancer
Maria Ley-Piscator
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Austrian dancer
Was Dancer
From Austria
Type Dancing
Gender female
Birth 1 August 1900, Vienna
Death 14 October 1999, New York City (aged 99 years)
Spouse: Erwin Piscator
The details


Maria Ley-Piscator (born Friederike Flora Czada, 1 August 1898 – 14 October 1999) is best known as the wife of Erwin Piscator (1893-1966), Germany's famous left-wing theater director. Born on 1 August 1898 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria), Maria Ley sought to create a theatrical career for herself as a dancer in Paris and Berlin. Later, she turned to choreography and helped in several stage productions with Max Reinhardt, including A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Maria Ley also studied literature at the Sorbonne, where she met Erwin Piscator (her third husband) during his exile in 1936. After marrying in Paris, the couple moved to Manhattan in 1939, where they founded the Dramatic Workshop at the New School for Social Research. Their students included Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando and Tony Randall. Ley-Piscator directed several theatrical productions off Broadway.
During the 1970s she worked as a teacher at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale and at Stony Brook University. Ley-Piscator died in New York in 1999 at the age of 101.


  • Ley-Piscator, Maria. 1954. Lot's Wife. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.
  • Ley-Piscator, Maria. 1967. The Piscator Experiment: The Political Theatre. New York: Heineman. Revised edition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 1970. ISBN 0-8093-0458-9.

Other sources

  • Rutkoff, Peter M. 1986. "Politics on Stage. Piscator and the Dramatic Workshop." New School: a History of the New School for Social Research. Ed. Peter M. Rutkoff and William B. Scott. New York: Macmillan. 172–195. ISBN 0-684-86371-5.

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