Religion in Contemporary German Drama

Religion in Contemporary German Drama

Botho Strauß, George Tabori, Werner Fritsch, and Lukas Bärfuss

Sinéad Crowe


Camden House



Investigates German religious drama since the 1970s, asking the question whether it develops religious themes or only exploits religious motifs, and exploring how it reflects the changing place of religion and spirituality in the world.
Critics often claim that the twenty-first century has seen a sudden "return" of religion to the German stage. But although drama scholarship has largely focused on politics, postmodernity, gender, ethnicity, and "postdramatic" performance, religious themes, forms, and motifs have been a topic and a source of inspiration for German dramatists for several decades, as this study shows. Focusing on works by four major dramatists - Botho Strauß, George Tabori, Werner Fritsch, and Lukas Bärfuss - this book examines how, why, and to what effect religion is invoked in German drama since the late 1970s. It asks whether contemporary German drama succeeds in developing religious insights or is at most quasi-religious, exploiting religious signs for aesthetic, theatrical, or dramaturgical ends. It considers the performative and historical intersections between drama and religion, contextualizing the playwrights' treatments of religion by exploring how they lean on or repudiate the traditions of modern European drama, especially that of Strindberg, the Expressionists, Artaud, Grotowski, and Beckett. It also draws on the sociology, anthropology, and psychology of religion, exploring how these works reflect the changing place of religion and spirituality in the world, from secularization to the "alternative" modes of religiosity that have proliferated in Western society since the 1960s.

Sinéad Crowe is a Teaching Assistant at the University of Limerick, Ireland.

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March 2013
178 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571135490
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, PER011020, REL051000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Definitions and Themes
The Relationship between Theater and Religion
Religion in Modern European Theater and Drama
"No One Wants to Get to God Anymore"? Botho Strauß's Groß und klein and Die eine und die andere
Theological Farce: George Tabori's Mein Kampf
"The Last Refuge for Metaphysics": Werner Fritsch's Theater Theory
"The Feeling of Faith": Fritsch's Wondreber Totentanz and Aller Seelen
Belief and Unbelief in the Twenty-First Century: Lukas Bärfuss's Der Bus (Das Zeug einer Heiligen)


Crowe largely succeeds in reaching her objective of offering thought-provoking interpretations of religion in contemporary avant-gardist German-language theatre. In her analyses of religious elements in individual dramas, in particular, she provides models of thoughtful, well-researched commentary on the use of religion in literature in general, while taking full consideration of the context, the medium, and the audience. SEMINAR

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