The publication in 1983 of a collection of works by Franz Xaver Kroetz, Frühe Prosa, frühe Stücke, revealed an artist much more complex than the rather naïve figure who had been created in the mind of the public. The legend, fostered in part by Kroetz himself, of the rise of this rough-hewn youth from the Bavarian countryside who struggled through acting school, gained experience in the theater by acting in traditional folk plays and producing one himself at the Ludwig-Thoma-Bühne in Rottach-Egern, and then burst on the German stage as the master of the “critical folk play,” clearly needed revision.
Kroetz was born in Munich on February 25, 1946, into a traditional middle-class family. His father, a very conservative and authoritarian figure, wanted his son to become an independent tax consultant. The young boy was placed in the Wirtschaftsoberrealschule, a new school that specialized in subjects related to business. Kroetz hated the school and all of his teachers, with the exception of one who encouraged Kroetz’s burgeoning interest in literature and the theater. When the young Kroetz failed in his fifth year, his dying father gave up his opposition to his son’s desire to take up acting. Kroetz attended the Neue Münchner Schauspielschule for about two years, but in 1963 he switched to the prestigious Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. Independent and somewhat rebellious, he did not submit to the traditional approach that prevailed at both schools; as a result, he did not complete his course at the former and failed the acting test at the latter. He returned to Munich, passed that actors’ guild examination, and became a professional actor.
In 1965, he joined a group of young actors who performed in the Kellertheater, a small, avant-garde theater in Munich. It was at this time that he read Mauricio Kagel, John Cage, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett and experimented with forms of the absurd and expressionistic theater. Because he could...
(The entire section is 809 words.)