“Instruction” and “The Aesthetics of Resistance” by Peter Weiss, the return to the theater of an uneasy author

The man’s name is Peter Weiss. His name, no doubt, no longer means much to many people. However, he went down in history as an inventor of documentary theatre. The rare photos that we have of him strike the depth of the gaze behind the gles, and an indefinable air – as a way of defying evil, without being fooled.

Peter Weiss seemed to have disappeared from the landscape, but, chance of the calendar or sign of the times, two of his texts are today staged by directors of importance, who both chose to work on them with young student actors. At the National Theater of Brittany (TNB), in Rennes, Madeleine Louarn created Education with promotion 11 of the TNB School of Drama. At the National Theater of Strasbourg (TNS), Sylvain Creuzevault signs an adaptation for the stage of The aesthetics of resistancevast fresco on the edge of the novel and the historical documentary, with the group 47 of the School of the TNS.

And these are two extremely strong evenings, which take us far into the thickness of a story, that of an XXe century whose heritage continues to remind us, and offer a real rediscovery of the German author. Which was born in 1916, near Berlin, where his father, a Hungarian Jew converted to Catholicism, owned a textile factory. Peter Weiss left Germany in 1934 and, after wandering for five years, settled in Sweden in 1939, where he lived until his death in 1982. He first wanted to be a painter, before to turn to literature, and to carry out some cinematographic experiments. In 1964, his play Marat Sade establishes him as one of the great contemporary playwrights.

Also read the archive (1964): Article reserved for our subscribers “Marat-Sade”, by Peter Weiss, by the Royal Shakespeare Company

In 1964 and 1965, along with other writers such as Arthur Miller, Peter Weiss was able to attend the sessions of the Frankfurt trial, where those responsible for the Auschwitz camp were indicted by the German courts. Twenty months of hearings, twenty-three defendants, twenty defenders, four public prosecutors, three civil party lawyers, a judge and three hundred and fifty witnesses, to revive the camp and the process that led to the “final solution “. From there, Weiss wrote Educationand laid the foundation stone of a documentary theater that had been in its infancy until then.

Oratorio inspired by Dante

It is this piece that Madeleine Louarn chose for the long-term work that she had to carry out with the students. The choice, for her, was obvious. “The context of the last elections in France, the resurgence of fascism everywhere in Europe and of an uninhibited extreme right: I did not expect to see this in my lifetime. The fragility of our human organization, of our Europe resulting directly from this era, jumps out at us like never before. And awakens some of the dread that our parents and grandparents went through. It was interesting to see how young people could go through this story. I am 65 years old, in my generation, values ​​were built on the ruins of this dread. But this is no longer the case in today’s youth. »

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