MLAC3115 Twentieth Century German Theatre: From Avantgarde to Virtual World
From Sarah Woodcock
This module looks at how German-language theatre has responded to the challenge of new forms of media in the course of the twentieth century and at the beginning of the twenty-first century. We will draw on theoretical writings, such as Bertolt Brecht’s discussion of the relationship between film and theatre, Peter Weiss’s conception of documentary theatre as a response to news media, and Peter Sloterdijk’s reflections on technology and ethics. We will reflect on such issues as agency and identity, the nature of historical material, the status of the audience and the challenge of new technologies. These questions will be applied to a five formally innovative plays - two barely more than 10 pages long, one called ‘Offending the Audience’, another in which 30,000 feet of film footage were used in the premiere, one harrowing portrayal of the events of Holocaust, and one a‘Big Brother’-style live soap opera, put on over seven weeks in its premiere. The plays are: ErnstToller’s Hoppla, wir leben! (1927), Peter Weiss’ Die Ermittlung (1965), Peter Handke’s Publikumsbeschimpfung (1966), Heiner Müller’s Die Hamletmaschine (1977), and René Pollesch’s www.slums (2000). Classes will comprise a mixture of seminars, lectures, and essay tutorials. Primary texts are in German, and the non-assessed presentations can be in German and should quote in German. The lectures are in English and German, but the seminar discussions and assessed coursework essays/exam are in English.