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

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Oxford University Press, 2017 - Drama - 398 pages
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 performances of Greek tragedies had effectively become 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 subsequent new genre of choric theatre in unified Germany. 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.


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Philhellenism and Theatromania
Only with Beauty Man Shall Play Goethe ́s Production of Ion in Weimar 1802
After the Institutionalization of Bildung The Potsdam Antigone of 1841
Wagner ́s Gesamtkunstwerk and Nietzsche ́s Vision of Ancient Greek Theatre
A Culture in Crisis Max Reinhardt ́s Productions of Greek Tragedies 19031919
Hailing a Racial Kinship Performances of Greek Tragedies during the Third Reich
Of Guilt and Archetypes PostWar Productions of Greek Tragedies in the 1940s and 1950s
Inventing New Forms of Political Theatre
On the Origins of Theatre and its Link to the Past The Schaubühne ́s Antiquity Projects of 1974 and 1980
Choric Theatre Between Tragic Experience and Participatory Democracy
The Return of Dionysus From Festive Performance to Global Spectacle

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About the author (2017)

Erika Fischer-Lichte, Professor of Theatre Studies, Freie Universitat Berlin

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).

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