Caesura of History: Performing Greek Tragedy after Brecht

Authors

  • Matthias Dreyer Goethe-University Frankfurt Institut for Theatre, Film and Media Studies

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.22107

Keywords:

theory of temporality, theory of tragedy, critical theory

Abstract

Taking into account the intertwining of the theory of tragedy on the one hand and theatrical work on ancient tragic texts on the other, the paper explores the way in which tragedy poses the question of history. This is especially the case in conceptions of tragedy as an interruption in a continuum. Hölderlin’s idea of caesura, its reflection in Benjamin’s understanding of tragedy as a revision of myth are in the center of a critical dramaturgy of this kind. By analysing Brecht’s work on Antigone as well as the stagings of critical theatre makers that came after Brecht (Einar Schleef, Dimiter Gotscheff), the paper shows the consequences of the concept ‘tragedy as caesura‘ on the level of the aesthetics of the theatre, unclosing in a radical way the temporality of the tragic process. From this point of view, tragedy is understood as a site of encounter with the persisting powers of the past; as reflexive rupture in the transition between times, that undermines the established order, but without, however, arriving at a new one. Although in the history of theatre and thought tragedy has been too often associated with the universal and timeless, how is it possible to think of historicity in a way negating submission under the universal without losing the genre of tragedy itself?

Author Biography

Matthias Dreyer, Goethe-University Frankfurt Institut for Theatre, Film and Media Studies

Matthias Dreyer is an assistant professor/postdoctoral research associate at the Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies, Goethe-University in Frankfurt am Main. Academic studies in Vienna, Paris, Baltimore and Berlin; work as a dramaturge; 2005-2011 research associate at the Institute of Theatre Studies, FU Berlin and the Research Centre "Transformations of Antiquity"; 2011 doctor's degree; recent research focus on collectivity, biopolitics and the history of liveness. Most important publication: Theater der Zäsur. Antike Tragödie im Theater seit den 1960er Jahren (2014).

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Published

31-01-2017

How to Cite

Dreyer, M. (2017). Caesura of History: Performing Greek Tragedy after Brecht. Performance Philosophy, 2(2), 241–256. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.22107

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