Tankred Dorst was born on December 19, 1925, in Oberlind near Sonneberg in Thuringia. His father was an engineer and manufacturer. As a teenager, Dorst became fascinated with the theater and dreamed of becoming a theater dramaturge. In 1942, as a seventeen-year-old high school student, he was drafted into the army. He was taken prisoner of war and placed in various English and American camps in Belgium, Great Britain, and the United States. Released in 1947, he finished his interrupted high school studies (Abitur) in 1950 and then studied literature, art history, and drama at the Universities of Bamberg and Munich, without getting a degree. After 1952, he resided in Munich.
Dorst went through his theater apprenticeship while working with a students’ puppet theater (Das kleine Spiel, the little play) in Schwabing, a bohemian section in Munich. He detailed his experiences there in a collection of essays, Geheimnis der Marionette (1957; the secret of the puppet), and in Auf kleiner Bühne: Versuche mit Marionetten (1959; on a small stage: experiments with puppets).
Soon, however, Dorst was acclaimed as a new talent in the German postwar theater, first gaining attention through a prize given by the city of Mannheim for his draft of Gesellschaft im Herbst and then by having the play produced almost simultaneously in several German theaters. Even more successful were his one-act plays: Freedom for Clemens, The Curve, and Great Tirade at the Town-Wall, all three performed in more than 150 theaters as well as translated into various languages. His new versions of some old plays (Ludwig Tieck’s Der gestiefelte Kater, 1797, pr. 1844; Puss-in-Boots, 1913-1914) and legends such as the old French love story of Aucassin and...
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