Ancient Drama and Reception of Antiquity in the Theatre and Drama of the German Democratic Republic (GDR)
Theatre in the German Democratic Republic was an essential part of the state propaganda machine and was strictly controlled by the cultural bureaucracy and by the party. Until the early sixties, ancient plays were rarely staged. In the sixties, classical Greek drama became officially recognised as part of cultural heritage. Directors free to stage the great classical playwrights selected ancient plays, on one hand, to escape the grim socialist reality, on the other to criticise it using various forms of Aesopian language. Two important dramatists and three examples of plays are presented and discussed: an adaptation of an Aristophanic comedy (Peter Hack’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ Peace at the Deutsche Theater in Berlin in 1962), a play based on a Sophoclean tragedy (Heiner Müller’s Philoktet, published in 1965, staged only in 1977), and a short didactic play (Lehrstück) based on Roman history (Heiner Müller’s Der Horatier, written in 1968, staged in 1973 in Hamburg in West Germany, and in the GDR only in 1988). At the end there is a brief look at a production of Aeschylus Seven against Thebes at the BE in 1969.
Copyright (c) 2018 Bernd Seidensticker
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