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Krlesa’s Galicia Act III: Photo: Thomas Aurin
Volume 1

Miroslav Krleza’s “In Agony” at the Residenztheater München

Those in whom memory lives on bring down upon themselves

the wrath of others who can continue to live only by forgetting.

                                                                               W. G. Sebald, Campo Santo

Miroslav Krleza (1893-1981), one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, is one of the least known outside his native Croatia. His trilogy In Agony centers on World War I and its social consequences. The Glembays (1928), the first play, depicts the societal degeneration prior to the outbreak of the war through the conflicts within a dynasty. Galicia (1920) shows the corruption and brutality in the conduct of war. In Agony (1928), the third play, sketches the moral disorientation of post-war society through the breakdown of a marriage. What makes this drama so particular is Krleza’s perspective on this catastrophe: namely, the Balkan angle on the collapse of the Austrian empire and his personal perspective as an artist with a European modernist outlook who lives in a provincial society. He was a citizen of several worlds, some of which vanished during his lifetime. He was born in Agram (present-day Zagreb), capital of Croatia, a province in the Austrian Empire subordinate to Hungarian administration. Agram was culturally oriented towards Vienna and saw itself as a Catholic vanguard against the neighboring provinces, Eastern Orthodox Serbia and Ottoman dominated Bosnia-Herzegovina. Krleza was of modest background, partly Hungarian on his mother’s side. His education at an army school in Pecs (Hungary) and the Military Academy in Budapest pointed him towards a career in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Royal-Imperial Monarchy. As feelings of South Slavic nationalism gave rise to the First and Second Balkan Wars in 1912/13, Krleza volunteered in the Serbian army but, suspected of being a Hungarian spy, was sent back to Budapest. The Hungarians considered him a deserter and expelled him from the Military Academy. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he was drafted as a common foot soldier into the Austrian army and eventually sent to the Eastern front in Galicia. [For text quotations from the trilogy and background information on Krleza, I am indebted to the superb program of the Residenztheater production, edited by Sebastian Huber.]

I went to see the six-hour trilogy on a sunny Saturday afternoon in July. As I walked through the center of Munich, meticulously reconstructed after World War II, making my way to the elegant Residenztheater, I thought about the worlds that collapsed on that ground during the past one hundred years. One of my first memories is as a three-year old girl in 1948 in Munich, holding my father’s hand while skirting the bomb craters. Munich was my parent’s childhood home. In 1917 my father went to war from there as an eighteen year old and returned wounded; in 1919 he fought in street battles during the short-lived revolution; after 1933 he was harassed there by the Nazis; and in 1939 he went as a medical officer into World War II. Thus seeing this production in Munich about World War I had a personal resonance, although in the consciousness of my generation the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust had largely eclipsed those of World War I.

Krleza began his career as a writer in 1914 and by the time of his death in 1981, he had created a huge and diverse body of work: essays, novellas, short stories, reviews and criticism, and plays. From a young age he espoused the communist cause in his writings and thus aroused the attention of his contemporary, Josip Broz, later known as Tito, the autonomous Yugoslav dictator. Tito protected Krleza against party pressures when he sharply criticized the conformist Social Realist direction of art under Stalin’s directives. Krleza was never a comfortable fellow traveler; his critical disdain hit upon diverse social and political hypocrisies and tyrannies, whether in the private sphere of marriage and family, the public sphere of malfeasance and corruption, military stupidity and arrogance, or the collusion between art and politics. He was harshly satirical in his depiction of the provincial patriarchal society, as he saw it in his native Zagreb. In a novel, On the Edge of Reason (1938), he lampoons the so-called pillars of society, calling this type the “homo cylindriacus who, as a rule, is at the head of some man-established institution, thinks of himself, in the glamour of his civic dignity, as follows: On behalf of the seven thousand doctors of all sorts, I stand at the head of my own branch of learning as its most outstanding representative, the most worthy of respect.” A bit later in the novel, Krleza unleashes his fury upon the “top-hatted folly” as well as on those who would be in a position to criticize: “Human intelligence today is but nervous restlessness, or rather neurasthenic fussing amid the post-diluvian conditions of reality. We neurotic individuals are surrounded by dullards, landlords, owners of soda-water factories, honorable citizens and petit-bourgeois folk wearing bowlers and felt hats as they attend one another’s funerals.” Karl Kraus, the Austrian writer, had assembled a similar cast of characters in his gigantic satirical opus about World War I, The Last Days of Mankind (1917/18). Krleza cast the perpetrators and the victims of human folly as being both, depending on the circumstances in which they find themselves forced to act or react.

The first and the third play of the trilogy belong to the Glembay cycle, written between 1926 and 1930; the second play, Galicia, written in 1920, is a separate play that belongs in spirit to a collection of novellas with the title, The Croatian God Mars. Translated from Croatian into German by Milo Dor, the trilogy was arranged by director Martin Kusej and dramaturg Sebastian Huber for this production which premiered at the Wiener Festwochen in May 2013. The first play, The Glembays, belongs to a cycle of texts, stories, and plays about the rise and fall of a fictional dynasty that had its start in theeighteenth century as poor tenant farmers but, through the machinations of generations of patriarchs, becomes one of the richest and most prominent families in pre-World War I Agram. Krleza may have been inspired by Thomas Mann’s novel, The Buddenbrooks (1901), which also depicts the gradual demise of an upper class mercantile dynasty. Krleza set the play in 1913, but the team Kusej/Huber moved it up to the night before the declaration of war, 2 August 1914. The date was projected on a scrim downstage before the start of the play. The entire action in three acts happens during a steamy summer night between one a.m. and five a.m. with offstage sounds of thunder, gusts of wind, and periodic downpours of rain underscoring the tumultuous events unfolding in the “red salon” of the Glembay townhouse.

Krlesa's The Glembays Act II. Johannes Zirner (Leo Glembay), Manfred Zapatka (Ignaz Glembay). Photo: Thomas Aurin.

Krlesa’s The Glembays Act II. Johannes Zirner (Leo Glembay), Manfred Zapatka (Ignaz Glembay). Photo: Thomas Aurin.

Assembled for the fiftieth jubilee of Glembay & Co. are various members of the Glembay clan: the patriarch, Ignaz Jacques Glembay, banker and chef of Glembay & Co., Ltd., sixty-nine years old, elegantly dressed in a perfect cutaway. Played by Manfred Zapatka, a veteran actor of Munich theatre for the past forty years, with a powerful and dangerous charm, Glembay senior’s demise is an impressive study of the fragility of status. His antagonist son from a first marriage, Dr. phil. Leo Glembay, who can afford the life of a freelance artist on Glembay money, is described by Krleza as “a decadent apparition, thirty-eight years old.” He has come back for this jubilee after a deliberate absence from his paternal home for sixteen years. In this production, Johannes Zirner does not conform to Krleza’s description of Leo as a decadent man but is a handsome, virile man though the required nervous intensity and his contrariness are apparent from the first impression at the outset of the first act. He is lounging on a downstage right sofa, smoking, and challenging a young woman in a white Dominican nun’s outfit. He reveals her former identity in a rather callous manner as that of his sister-in-law, Beatrice, the widow of his older brother Ivo Glembay who had committed suicide seven years earlier. Within a year after his death, she had entered the convent and became Sister Angelica, the name she insists on now. During Leo’s challenges she stands downstage center facing the audience and contemplating a painting (unseen by the audience) of her former self as a young society lady, Baronesse Beatrix Zygmuntowicz; she calmly defends herself against his barbs and his compliments, which he expresses as his desire to paint a “true” portrait of her imbued with the erotic sensuality that he sees in her. His tone is embarrassing and wooing at the same time but she remains aloof. Played by Britta Hammelstein, she exudes a dignified inner beauty against his tempestuous aggression. In her white nun’s outfit she appears totally incongruous in the environment.

Meanwhile we see in the background other men in evening dress assembled in small conversational groups. Titus Andronicus Fabriczy-Glembay, a cousin of banker Glembay whom Krleza describes (and the program quotes) as an “old bonvivant on whose faded skull several thin little hairs are ingeniously placed”; several other emblematic impeccable pieces of clothing and accoutrements, including a dyed black moustache and perfect dentures, make up the image of “an aging Epicurean who jealously watches over every minute of his sixty-nine years.” Dr. theol. et phil., the ex-Jesuit, Aloys Silberbrandt, tutor and father-confessor to the family, stands with his charge, the young Oliver Glembay, son from the second (and present) marriage of Glembay senior. Silberbrandt is about forty, “consumptive, with an expressionless mask-like face.” The house doctor of the Glembay family, Dr. Paul Altmann, a middle-aged man of modern science, joins the group a bit later together with Glembay senior. While Krleza’s physiologically precise descriptions emphasize the character as type, the Munich production allowed for more individualization that gave the actors a greater behavioral range. The mimetic range and stamina of the actors was remarkable—most of them appeared in two of the three plays; this enforced the progressive connection in the trilogy. The level of abstraction necessary to avoid melodrama was accomplished through the settings and the lighting.

The settings were designed by Annette Murschetz. The first play takes place in the “red salon.” She created a parody of the Herrenzimmer, or smoking parlor, where the men would gather after dinner, usually without the women. The proscenium was framed by a heavy blood red frame with an inner darker red frame and a huge painting on the back wall in the style of nineteenth century academic historicism to create an atmosphere of oppressive immutability. Inside the frames the acting space was crowded by an assemblage of dark, heavy, mismatched and rather tasteless furniture which appeared to have been collected by generations of Glembays. Cold lighting (design by Tobias Loeffler) downstage with progressive darkening towards upstage complemented the ominous stuffy quality of place and emphasized the isolation of the characters from one another. The very first silent tableau presents an ambience of discomfort and ennui but Kusej’s stage composition created beauty in the midst of this superannuated aesthetic of furniture-clad elegance.

The three acts transpire in a rapid succession of implosions: family scandals and Glembay’s business machinations are revealed by Leo; the legal entanglements of Glembay senior’s wife, Charlotte Castelli-Glembay are reported in the newspapers. Early in act 1 during a conversation among those present about the painting in the background, Leo unmasks the ugly truth about several notables of the Glembay dynasty represented in the painting; like donors in medieval altar paintings, they hold in their hands symbolic miniature representations of their business or honorific associations: a scale, a church, a locomotive. Generation after generation, they all had their hands in deceptive business practices, caused murder and suicide, or ended up in an insane asylum, while the clan managed cover-ups and bought public honor. Leo is tolerated as a neurotic crackpot by the family. He admits that his indictments are rooted in a bitter self-hatred for being a Glembay; his mother “died of the Glembay complex”; his sister drowned herself; his brother Ivo jumped from a third floor window. All these suicides are considered by the others as accidents.

In the course of the play the characters hurtle from one catastrophe to the next. The first one begins with young lawyer Bobby Fabriczy-Glembay bursting in with a newspaper article that implicates Baroness Glembay in a careless hit-and-run coach accident that killed an older poor woman and caused the subsequent suicide of the woman’s destitute daughter-in-law who had come to the Baroness for help but was rebuffed. The audience witnesses the bored arrogance of the elegant and seductive lady, played superbly by Sophie von Kessel, who enters the stage after we had heard her play offstage the Moonlight Sonata. The discussion centers on what to do, to suppress or respond to the scathing article—this discussion was staged around a big table with occasional drops of rain subtly dripping on the spread-out newspaper. Leo’s revelations are relentless. He mocks the Glembay bank holdings in the funeral business among others, such as the armament business—as he says “it is in the interest of the Glembays when as many people die as possible.” Then he casually mentions the illicit relationship between his stepmother and her father-confessor, Aloys Silberbrandt—Leo sleeps next-door to her room and hears the nightly activity there. Glembay senior, standing in the shadows upstage, overhears the allegation against his wife and the act closes as he breaks down while thunder is heard off-stage.

Act 2 is mostly taken up by a father-son confrontation in the same space but with a darkened periphery. As Leo packs to leave, Glembay presses him about the truth of his allegation. The form of the altercation between the two resembles a fencing duel; the parries become progressively more dangerous with both of them hitting with uncanny precision at each other’s vulnerable points. Leo unpacks one family scandal after another, a series of sexual and business misdeeds. Krleza’s stage direction indicates that the verbal jousts come to a brutal fistfight. Kusej gradually intensifies the action by beginning with Leo’s icy off-handed accusations countered by his father’s various denigrations of Leo as an arrogant freeloader until Leo’s ultimate attack, the brutal defamation of his stepmother’s history. He drags up her past as a whore whose real name nobody knows since her birth certificate is fake, and whom cousin Fabriczy “the old pimp” had picked up from a bordello in Vienna and presented to his cronies as some Baroness, and whom Glembay finally married, after his first wife’s death. According to Leo, she has since become the moral and financial ruin of Glembay. This statement enrages the father and he bloodies Leo with a heavy blow. This prepares Leo for his final coup de grace: he reveals that “the Baroness,” in order to silence him about her previous adulteries, “forced me between her thighs!” Glembay collapses with a heart attack and sends Leo for his wife but he cannot find her. Finally, she appears, still in evening dress, followed by Dr. Altmann. As she witnesses her husband’s distress, she blithely answers his question about her whereabouts: “Me? In the garden! I have a headache. The air outside is wonderful, so easy to breathe—and my migraine…” Glembay falters and the fire wall slowly descends.

Act 3 begins in the same space, with white light concentrated on the big table downstage centre, where the corpse of Glembay senior is laid out covered with a white sheet; only his head and naked shoulders are visible towards the audience. Sister Angelica kneels to his right, quietly praying, while Leo sits slightly upstage to his left, drawing his father’s death mask. Fabriczy, Altmann, and Silberbrandt, sit in various deep armchairs in the shadows of the periphery. After the initial stillness, the action mounts to a furious crescendo, with the corpse in the center the subject and object of more revealing recriminations, this time by the Baroness who turns Leo’s defamation into her own existential truth. The staging stresses with tremendous graphic courage the horrific absurdity of this dance of death of a family, emblematic of a corrupt moribund society and epoch. The image of Sophie von Kessel straddling the corpse as she hurls her own anguish at Leo is stunning. She towers at this point above him and displays an elemental force previously unimaginable when Leo mocked her faux elegance as “playing the Moonshine Sonata … and drinking champagne while standing on top of Vesuvius.” Johannes Zirner’s transitions are remarkable: from the misfit Leo who childishly demonstrates his moral superiority by simply walking over furniture, to the self-righteous and cold prosecutor, to the sick with self-hatred would-be lover of Angelica/Beatrice—his angelic Beatrice in his Dantean hell. His stepmother walks in on them and calls both moral hypocrites. Leo, like a cornered animal, attacks her and fulfills his own worst self-suspicion as a murderous Glembay. He stabs her in an impulsive rage, absurdly with a pair of scissors that she happened to hold in her hand. All this transpires in rapid succession and the play ends with Bobby Fabriczy-Glembay charging into the room with the morning newspaper announcement of the war declaration between Germany and Russia and his comment: “War, that’s it! That’s what we need! That will save us!” The sound of birds chirping in the garden is heard as the theatre fire wall descends with an ominous boom.

Krlesa's Galicia Act I: Norman Hacker (Lieutenant Walter), Shenja Lacher

Krlesa’s Galicia Act I: Norman Hacker (Lieutenant Walter), Shenja Lacher

Galicia is based on Krleza’s own wartime experience in 1916 in Galicia during the Brussilow campaign. While he did not participate in actual battles because of illness, he saw the horrendous effects of the Austrian defeat and the Russian Pyrrhic victory, with one million casualties. Krleza commented, “I believe nowhere have I laughed more about human stupidity than in Galicia during the Brussilow offensive.”  It was his first play to be accepted for performance in the Croatian National Theatre; however, ironically, the premiere was to happen on the day, 30 December 1920, when the Belgrade government issued a proclamation “banning all Communist propaganda, stopping the work of all Communist organizations, and confiscating all Communist newspapers.” Krleza who had published a Communist journal, was banned from the theatre; Galicia was cancelled and not performed until after World War II.

The Munich production opens to reveal a picture of a demolished school room lit spottily by a grayish low light. The entire floor is thickly littered with books and papers; in the middle a potbellied stove with pipe; upstage left in the shadow a desk against which leans a motionless female figure; some limbs partially buried can be spotted in the clutter on the floor. Downstage left in a zinc tub filled with water lies a young man preoccupied with preening himself—shaving, doing his fingernails, his toenails, spraying perfume—while cheerfully singing the Blue Danube waltz, completely oblivious to his surroundings. Close to the stove another young soldier, Cadet Horvat tries to rest but irritated by the grooming activities, he bursts out with the first lines of the play: “Bobby, I’ve asked you three times to stop this waltz singing of yours… And your nail polish is poisoning the air. And your perfume spreads your Weltanschauung wholesale.” To which Lieutenant Bobby Agramer sarcastically responds while jumping stark naked from the tub: “Mon cher cousin, you’re so full of it today.” Another soldier, Gregor, carries the lifeless body of a child through the room and comments: “Nothing is left of the school. And it’s full of rats in here.” Thus the scene is set for the disaster of war as the soldiers are subjected to the utter depredation of the officers and forced to commit crimes against the civilians. The immoral and even stupid calamity of military action is seen through situations behind the battlefield. Krleza calls for offstage sounds to augment and contrast the action onstage. For example, we hear rats scurrying, the crying of children, voices of soldiers and horses, carts grinding through the mud, continuous rain, every now and then a clarinet, and distant explosions. Meanwhile the action onstage escalates from Agramer’s toilette to Lieutenant Walter’s brutal rape of a young Private, graphically acted in the production. In between those two actions the dialogue between Horvat and his comrade, Lieutenant Gregor, reveals several examples of the shift in morality and resultant horrors, as well as the numbing effect on the soldiers—what we now would call the effect of PTSD. Agramer steals local artifacts; an old woman whose cow, her livelihood, was stolen, is condemned to hang because in her unmitigated frustration, she spat at Baroness Meldegg-Granensteg who happened to pass her on the way to visit her husband on the front; the local postal clerk, Franjo was caught in an explosion—all that’s left of him is the blood-soaked newspaper he was to deliver to Agramer. Gregor, the older battle weary resigned officer tries to keep Horvat, his suicidal young friend, alive since the Austrians are in retreat anyway. Horvat, the protagonist, who sees the impending execution of the old woman as murder, plain and simple, expects to go that night to a doomed outpost and be finished with it all. The act ends with Walter commanding that Horvat oversee the hanging of the old woman in front of the local church before he’s to go to the doomed outpost, Grabowiecz. It is Walter’s act of revenge against Horvat who had testified against him before a military commission because he had witnessed Walter arbitrarily shooting an orderly. The brutal stupidity, sadism, and venality of the officer corps and the demoralization of the troops are thus established in act 1. The images created by the staging and the courageous differentiated acting were breathtaking.

Krlesa's Galicia Act III: Photo: Thomas Aurin

Krlesa’s Galicia Act III: Photo: Thomas Aurin

Act 2 takes place at night in a muddy square—there is continuous rain onstage—in front of a ruined church, represented by a large damaged crucifix upstage. The hanging corpse of the old woman is dominant downstage right—an ironic juxtaposition to the hanging Christ. Onstage, stiff from the cold rain and mute in the sight of the dangling corpse, are Horvat and his comrade Gregor; the guarding soldier Podrawetz is dozing in the mud near the corpse. Lieutenant Walter with his lover Private in tow enters and congratulates Cadet Horvat on his “good” execution. In his drunken state, Walter laughs like a hyena and with a vulgar gesture towards the corpse and the words, “Stupid old cow. How dare such vermin rise up against a locomotive.” He exits, leaving Horvat immobilized with self-disgust. He wishes he had refused to do the execution; then he would have been shot and, as he says to Gregor, “I would not be what I am now: a ruin, a rotten tooth, a common whore… a dog.” He pulls out his pistol ready to shoot himself but Gregor stops him by degrading this suicide as “pure romanticism.” The most striking stage image in this act follows: it is Horvat leaping onto the corpse and dangling with her in an embrace, his head buried in her chest and his legs locked around her body. He cries out in despair: “And this dead woman is also pure romanticism? I twisted this dried up woman’s neck like the neck of an old crow not an innocent being. I am a murderer and have no excuse of mitigating circumstances.” To Gregor’s observation that “all of Europe stands today under the gallows,” Horvat retorts “yes, all of Europe, and nobody has the courage to refuse. One must conquer fear and finally say No.” The next crisis occurs with the entrance of a tipsy Lieutenant Agramer, who comes to summon Horvat to play a Rachmaninoff Nocturne at the officer’s dinner party given in honor of the Baroness. After Horvat categorically refuses to follow that order, Agramer leaving in a huff, trips over Podrawetz; humiliated and muddied, he slugs the poor guard in the face. Cadet Horvat challenges Lieutenant Agramer with his pistol and orders him to leave; Agramer retreats threatening Horvat with court-martial. Gregor takes Horvat from the scene. Walter’s Private appears on-stage with the order of arrest but Podrawetz claims Horvat left for the front outpost and thus saves him.

Act 3 takes place in an improvised officer’s mess hall; on a banquet table the remnants of a festive dinner but the floor is littered as in the schoolroom of act 1. Officers are gathered around Brigadier Malocchio who carries on a discussion about warfare with the more modern minded Artillery Captain Lukacs; also present are a drunk Lieutenant Walter, as well Dr. Altmann and Chaplain Silberbrandt, recognizable from The Glembays. In the background we see a woman making love to an officer. When Gregor and Horvat enter, the woman saunters to the foreground; she turns out to be the Baroness, also played by Sophie von Kessel, who asked for the Rachmaninoff concert. Horvat sees blood in the wine stains on the table; the Baroness sees that he is bloody and dirty but she asks him in most flattering terms to play, “maestro, please.” Horvat refuses but she shows her teeth and orders him to play in the name of her husband, the Fieldmarshal. He begins to play a funeral march, gradually distorting the music until everybody shouts for him to stop. Horvat will not be stopped and shouts over the music: “I am no rebel. I am a murderer. My hands are bloody. But I killed on your orders. My only shame: I was not strong enough to say No to you.” Into this cacophony the announcement of the fall of Grabowiecz, the last Austrian outpost, crashes like a bomb. Walter intending to shoot Horvat shouts, “Hands Up! I shoot!” Chaos breaks out where somehow all aim at one another and within a few seconds the massacre is complete. Brigadier Heinrich, the only survivor, played by Zapatka, slinks away with the last words in the play: “Must get away from here quickly! Let’s drive to… Retreat! Grabowietz fell! This is the end. Total defeat! The collapse of the imperial-royal empire…”

The acting ensemble was superb in handling the rapid-fire transitions from beat to beat as well as rendering the naked brutality of some of the action. All of the actors who played parts in The Glembays, played roles in Galicia, except for the actress who played Sister Angelica, but she played the main role of Laura in the third play, In Agony.

The third play, without intermission like the others, is very different in texture. Set in 1922, it focuses on the intimate sphere of a dysfunctional marriage. The totally white, totally empty set, except for a black telephone on the floor against the back wall, lit in white shadowless light came as a shock after the previous penumbral crowded sets. It laid bare quite literally the emptiness of the relationships among the three main characters and their moral and psychic disorientation. Baron von Lenbach (only mentioned in Galicia), played by Goetz Schulte, is a psychological casualty of the war and the subsequent demise of the Austrian empire—he is a drunk, a gambler, and disdains the new order where everyone has to work to earn a living. Laura, his wife, a modern assertive woman of the Glembay clan, played by Britta Hammelstein very differently from her Sister Angelica, has opened a fashion boutique and earns the money which her husband gambles away. When the play opens, Laura has just uncovered a shameful ruse by which her husband tried to trick her into giving him a considerable sum of money. He considers it her duty and the amount insignificant but she counters “Two thousand are poker chips for you but I work seven days as a seamstress to earn those two thousand. I don’t play cards. I work.” This Strindbergian “dance of death” winds its way through accusations, counter accusations, and mutual resentments, that simply demonstrate the moral bankruptcy, and ultimately end in two absurd separate suicides (onstage) of the Baron and Laura. The lawyer-lover, Ivan von Krizovec (Markus Hering’s only role in the trilogy), whose help she sought after her husband’s suicide turns out to be a useless vapid liar. Her presumed woman friend, Countess Madeleine Petrowna, an apparition out of an Otto Dix painting, played hilariously by Sophie von Kessel, is a high-class whore visibly sick with venereal disease and of no help. The play ends with Laura, alone, back to the audience, toying with the same pistol with which her husband had killed himself in her presence. The curtain comes down, as she fires a shot into her temple and collapses.

Krleza’s work and Kusej’s mise en scène of this seminal rendering of a period one hundred years ago that was the prelude to the total cataclysm of European culture bears taking notice. Sebastian Huber, the dramaturg, points out in a program note that the tension between a vague hope for change and despair about one’s own impotence and uncertainty characterizes the conflicts between and within the characters, and that this makes them into our contemporaries.

Krlesa's In Agony Act I. Photo: Thomas Aurin.

Krlesa’s In Agony Act I. Photo: Thomas Aurin.


Beate Hein Bennett, Ph.D. Comp. Lit., has worked as a teacher, translator, and freelance dramaturg. Born and raised in Germany and trained in all aspects of theatre arts, she has a high respect for the art in all its complexity from front to backstage, from spoken language to the language of the body. Her latest involvement has been as dramaturg for the New Yiddish Rep/Castillo Theatre premiere production in Yiddish of Waiting for Godot in New York. A theatrical highlight was as translator and dramaturg for The Living Theatre production of Else Lasker-Schüler’s IANDI on Avenue C. She is currently translating Judith Malina’s book The Piscator Notebook (Routledge, 2012) into German.


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