The theater was able to become the foremost cultural activity of the camp because it was led by an exceptional artist who, already, enjoying certain fame at the time of his internment on Ile Longue, later became a celebrity in the world of cinema : Georg Wilhelm Pabst
It is G.W. Pabst, Austrian screenwriter, filmmaker and an occasional film producer ( 1885 – 1967), considered, next to Fritz Lang (M “Le Maudit”, Metropolis) and of F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu, Sunrise) as one of the “big three” of the German “expressionist” cinema ( 1919 - 1933). After several commitments as a comedian in Germany, Austria and Switzerland theaters, he is named, in 1911, director of the German Popular Theater of New York. It is during his return to Europe, in 1914, on the passenger ship Nieuw Amsterdam, that, on September 2nd, 1914, he is arrested and interned, as the other passengers, to the camp of Ile Longue
As being an experienced man of the stage, he is predisposed to take charge of the theater, from its implementation, late March, 1917 - in fact, one of the sheds roughly fitted for this purpose. The success of the theater of the prisoners, the choice of the plays and the names of the actors are known to us thanks to remarkable posters with the programs: of reduced size, they are some real work of art by their high quality and the presence of an original lithography. These illustrations present some characteristic examples of the style of the beginning of the XXth century which the Germans call “Jugendstil”.
The choice of the plays of which G.W. Pabst directs, testifies of an excellent knowledge of the dramatic literature during this period, and corresponds to the expectations of this public: entertainment before all, without excluding completely this other historic function which is education. This is the reason the number of comical plays, seems widely above that of the dramas.
Repeatedly Die Insel-Woche writes about the reactions of gratitude of the public towards the participants of the theater (comedians, director and decorators). Talking about the representation of Ludwig Thoma’s comical play, (1867 - 1921), for example, Die Insel-Woche (p. 2, Schauspiele) writes: “this comedy takes place in front of us, fills us completely with laughter and joy, and transports us during a few hours over the passing of these days which flow silently.
About G.W. Pabst who appears as the real strength of this success of the theater in the camp of Long Island, it is interesting to add an information: the “inequitable” captivity undergone in France did not prevent him, by pursuing his career in the world of cinema, from realizing (in cooperation with the French director Robert Beaudoin) the French-German movie Kameradschaft / the tragedy of the mine (Germany / France 1931). It is not only an interesting historical testimony on the French-German relations of the thirties, but, in opposition against the tendencies of that time, he also tried to build good relations between France and Germany. In fact, this movie, today forgotten, brings to G.W. Pabst a nomination in the legion of Honor and that, during the world Exhibition of Brussels in 1958, an international jury of critics of the cinema elected him among “one of the thirty best films of all times”.