Tragedy's Endurance: Performances of Greek Tragedies and Cultural Identity in Germany Since 1800

ISBN : 9780199651634

Erika Fischer-Lichte
448 ページ
135 x 216 mm
Classical Presences

This volume sets out a novel approach to theatre historiography, presenting the history of performances of Greek tragedies in Germany since 1800 as the history of the evolving cultural identity of the educated middle class throughout that period. Philhellenism and theatromania took hold in this milieu amidst attempts to banish the heavily French-influenced German court culture of the mid-eighteenth century, and by 1800 their fusion in performances of Greek tragedies served as the German answer to the French Revolution. Tragedy's subsequent endurance on the German stage is mapped here through the responses of performances to particular political, social, and cultural milestones, from the Napoleonic Wars and the Revolution of 1848 to the Third Reich, the new political movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification. Images of ancient Greece which were prevalent in the productions of these different eras are examined closely: the Nazi's proclamation of a racial kinship between the Greeks and the Germans; the politicization of performances of Greek tragedies since the 1960s and 1970s, emblematized by Marcuse's notion of a cultural revolution; the protest choruses of the GDR and the new genre of choric theatre in the 1980s and 1990s. By examining these images and performances in relation to their respective socio-cultural contexts, the volume sheds light on how, in a constantly changing political and cultural climate, performances of Greek tragedies helped affirm, destabilize, re-stabilize, and transform the cultural identity of the educated middle class over a volatile two hundred year period.


List of Illustrations
0: Introduction: Philhellenism and Theatromania
1: Only With Beauty Man Shall Play: Goethe's Production of Ion in Weimar (1802)
2: After the Institutionalization of Bildung: The Potsdam Antigone of 1841
3: Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk and Nietzsche's Vision of Ancient Greek Theatre
4: A Culture in Crisis: Max Reinhardt's Productions of Greek Tragedies (1903 19)
Sophocles'/Hofmannsthal's Electra Greek Maenad or Modern Hysteric?
Greek Tragedies in the Circus: Max Reinhardt's Theatre of the Five Thousand
5: Hailing a Racial Kinship: Performances of Greek Tragedies during the Third Reich
Resurrecting Ancient Greece in Nazi Germany the Oresteia as Part of the Olympic Games in 1936
Ancient Tragedies in Times of War the Case of Antigone
6: Of Guilt and Archetypes: Post-War Productions of Greek Tragedies in the 1940s and 50s
Oedipus and the Question of Collective Guilt
Brecht's Antigone as a Model for Epic Theatre
In Search of the 'Universal Human' Gustav Rudolf Sellner's Productions of Greek Tragedies in the 1950s
7: Inventing New Forms of Political Theatre
Linking Greek with other 'Naïve' Cultures Benno Besson's Oedipus Tyrant
Lehrstücke on the Imminent Disintegration of the State
Topicalizing the Tragedies of Ancient Greece: Hans Neuenfels' Medea (1976) and Christoph Nel's Antigone (1978) in Frankfurt
8: On the Origins of Theatre and Its Link to the Past: The Schaubühne's Antiquity Projects of 1974 and 1980
Antiquity Project I Peter Stein's Exercises for Actors and Klaus Michael Grüber's The Bacchae
Antiquity Project II Peter Stein's Oresteia: Reflections on the Historical Process
9: Choric Theatre: Between Tragic Experience and Participatory Democracy
The Re-Birth of Tragedy out of the Chorus
Choric Protests and a Peaceful Revolution
Towards the Utopia of a Participatory Democracy
10: Epilogue: The Return of Dionysus: From Festive Performance to Global Spectacle
I. Greek Tragedies
II. Other Works Cited
III. Reviews and Programme Notes Cited
IV. Online References
V. Films


Erika Fischer-Lichte is Professor of Theatre Studies and the Director of the International Research Center 'Interweaving Performance Cultures' at Freie Universitat Berlin. She has published widely in the fields of theatre history, theory and aesthetics of theatre, comparative aesthetics, and contemporary theatre, including several monographs in English: History of European Drama and Theatre (Routledge, 2002; previously published in German in 1990), Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual. Exploring Forms of Political Theatre (Routledge, 2005), The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics (Routledge, 2008; previously published in German in 2004), The Routledge Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies (Routledge, 2014; previously published in German in 2010), and Dionysus Resurrected. Performances of Euripides' The Bacchae in a Globalizing World (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).