Handke’s Kaspar Dramatizes Language Theory (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Peter Handke’s first full-length play, Kaspar, took Germany by storm and gave a new, postmodern voice to the Western world.
Summary of Event
Until 1966, Peter Handke was a little-known author associated with the so-called Ganz Group, an assembly of young artists and intellectuals set to pull down the idols of modernism. The year 1966, though, was important in several ways to Handke. In addition to raising his voice in favor of a new aesthetic, he had published his first novel, Die Hornissen (1966; the hornets), and had his short play Publikumsbeschimpfung (1966; Offending the Audience, 1969) presented in Frankfurt. Die Hornissen received generally favorable reviews, and Offending the Audience was the hit of the “Experimenta I” drama festival at the Theater am Turm. For his new works, Handke was awarded the coveted Gerhart Hauptmann prize.
Offending the Audience had deeply startled its viewers by turning the tables on them; the actors stood in a row on a bare stage directly addressing the audience, forcing them to create the play by interacting with the performers. The mode established in Offending the Audience was followed by Handke in other short experimental pieces, notably Selbstbezichtigung (1966; Self-Accusation, 1969).
After having experienced such a startlingly new approach in...
(The entire section is 1881 words.)
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