Heiner Müller’s Democratic Theater
Title Details

240 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

9 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture

Imprint: Camden House

Heiner Müller's Democratic Theater

The Politics of Making the Audience Work

by Michael Wood

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
Analyzes not just Müller's texts but also the theatrical events that emerged from them, showing that from the beginning of his career Müller tried to create democracy both within and outside the theater.
The East German playwright Heiner Müller (1929-1995) is one of the most influential European dramatists and theater directors since Brecht. While critical literature on Müller often discusses the politics of his works, analysis tends to stop at the level of the text, neglecting the theatrical events that emerge from it and the audiences for which it was written and performed. Situating his study within Müller's interests in democracy and audience activity,Michael Wood addresses these gaps in scholarship, making an original contribution to the understanding of Müller's work as playwright and director.
In 1985, Müller spoke of the importance of a "democratic" theater: one thatconfronts theatergoers with densely contradictory material that they must interpret for themselves, reflecting the complexity of material reality and encouraging them to question their participation in political life. Wood's studyshows that Müller sought to do this in his combined 1988 production of Der Lohndrücker, Der Horatier, and Wolokolamsker Chaussee IV: Kentauren, staged at a time when questions of democracy were at the forefront of East German consciousness. It also demonstrates that from the beginning of his career Müller tried to make theater that would create a form of democracy both within and outside the theater.

Michael Wood is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, where he received his PhD in 2014.
Introduction
Producing the New Public: Der Lohndrücker, 1956-60
Process and the Public Forum: Der Horatier, 1968-73
Treating Woodworm: Wolokolamsker Chaussee IV: Kentauren, 1986
"SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THIS AGE OF HOPE": Der Lohndrücker at the Deutsches Theater, 1988-91
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
"Wood . . . reconstructs several important earlier productions of Lohndrücker and Horatier by other directors, using them as foils to demonstrate the importance and impact of Müller's artistic choices in 1988. . . . [The author's assiduous archival sleuthing] represents exemplary dramaturgical scholarship, a valuable body of reliable background information assembled to preserve and illuminate an ephemeral theatre event whose enduring scholarly interest [he] makes clear." MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW
"[O]ffers new perspectives and compelling arguments on Müller's work and its social-historical position. The book will therefore be of interest and critical value to scholars of Heiner Müller, German theater, the GDR, and divided Germany. While the extensive archival research alone provides a wealth of new materials, . . . Wood's rigorous interdisciplinarity and his careful work at the intersection of drama and theater studies also make the book important for scholars in cultural and theater studies more broadly." S. E. Jackson, MONATSHEFTE
"Michael Wood's monograph provides an excellent investigation of Heiner Mueller's pursuit of effective political theater. . . . By directing readers' attention to the social basis of human character and shifting boundaries of collective experience and action, Wood's monograph proves particularly timely as it reminds readers that the production and reception of art can and should have social and political consequences." GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW
"[V]ery clearly structured and written . . . . [M]akes a clear case for Müller's understanding of reception as a democratic force." Ralph Yarrow, JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES
"[C]ompelling and well-executed . . . . Wood's study succeeds admirably in fulfilling [its] goals . . . . Indeed, it is especially notable for successfully juggling the empirical and the theoretical aspects of audience response. . . . [T]hrough this excellent work, we glimpse a positive vision of the 'democratic socialism' in Müller's oeuvre that outlives the circumstances of its conception." Jack Davis, MODERN DRAMA
"Wood's investigation usefully foregrounds Müller's interest in democratic processes in which he wanted his audiences to be actively involved." Anselm Heinrich, NEW THEATRE QUARTERLY
"[G]lean[s] valuable critical insight from meticulous archival work. . . . Like Müller says of his own theatrical practice, 'Es wird ein Prozeß vorgeführt, nicht ein Resultat abgeliefert,' . . . Wood's scholarship . . . makes its notable contribution to Müller studies, in which 'a process is shown rather than a result delivered." Josh Alvizu, STUDIES IN 20TH- AND 21ST-CENTURY LITERATURE
"Michael Wood's timely new study of Heiner Müller offers an incisive view into the work of East Germany's most famous dramaturge." Jennifer Kapczynski, GERMAN QUARTERLY

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Title Details

240 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

9 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture

Imprint: Camden House