Carl Zuckmayer’s apprenticeship in the theater during the early 1920’s and particularly the failure of Pankraz erwacht eventually led him to an important insight:For the first time I recognized my limits. . . . I had neither the gift, nor intention of founding a new literary epoch, a new theatrical style, a new direction in art. . . . But I knew that a revitalized impact and revitalized values (eine neue Lebendigkeit der Wirkung und der Werte) can be achieved by human artistic means which transcend the limitations of time, which will never become obsolete. . . . I wanted to approach nature, life, and truth, without distancing myself from the demands of the day, from the burning subject-matter of my time.
Although Zuckmayer said that this statement was not intended as a “program” for his future dramatic production, the fact is that after Pankraz erwacht, he wrote only “realistic” dramas with plots structured according to Aristotelian principles, intended to inspire “pity and fear” in the audiences of serious dramas and to celebrate life with all its folly in comedies. One of the most important touchstones for the success or failure of a drama is the question of characterization and audience identification with the protagonists. Those plays that contain a fairly large number of full-bodied, “round” characters have the greatest effect on the audience. In Zuckmayer’s case, such characters are usually firmly...
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