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Thomas Bernhard. There are no Viennese in Oxford the masses don't shout in Oxford. Herta. Frau Professor is going to take me along to Neuhaus. Frau Zittel. 𝗣𝗗𝗙 | Christine Kiebuzinska is Associate Professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic and Thomas Bernhard, Heldenplatz (Frankfurt, ). The event was the Burgtheater production of Thomas Bernhard's Heldenplatz; and the anniversary it 'commemorated' and probed was the Anschluss: Hitler's.

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Heldenplatz (English: Heroes Square) is a stage drama by Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard. The final play written by Bernhard, it premiered on November 4, and Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. The violent discussions in reaction to Thomas Bernhard's ' Heldenplatz gangha /er" or doom promoter, for even before the Heldenplatz scandal he had. Thomas Bernhard - Heldenplatz - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt ) or view presentation slides online. Bernhards Drama.

Peymann, who before assuming the post at the Burgtheater had been the artistic director in Stuttgart and Bochum, has a reputation of provoking the public, and as a result, criticism against Peymann focused not only. At the same time, Bernhard was already viewed in his native country with distaste. In the play, taking his cue from the upheavals generated by the election of Kurt Waldheim in , Bernhard not only dismisses the postwar image of Austria as victim of Nazi Germany, but maintains that Austria's retreat into nostalgia for its imperial past, implied in Modern Drama, 38 [ The.

Reception of Heldenplatz the celebrations of the Burgtheater's one-hundred-year history, represents yet another problem of Austria's inability of Vergangenheitsbewiiltigung, or attempts to come to terms with the horrors of the past, with its not-so-latent anti-Semitic and pro-fascist sentiments. Thus one could say that the Heldenplatz scandal was staged even before Peymann's decision to commission Bernhard to write a new play for the Burgtheater's commemorative celebrations.

As a result, the premiere of Heldenplatz had to be shifted to the later date of the 4th of November, ; however, despite this delay, Peymann continued to bill Heldenplatz as the official play for the Burgtheater's centennial celebration.

In addition, the problems that beset the production of Heldenplatz were fueled by the highly ructious Austrian scandal sheets. Initially, the outcry focused on the choice of the depressing Bernhard, frequently referred to as the Ubertreibungskiillstler, the exaggeration-artist, as the playwright to open such a significant celebration.

‘Heldenplatz’ by Thomas Bernhard (Review)

Heldenplatz centers on a Jewish family in the Vienna of The main character, Professor Josef Schuster, commits suicide by jumping out of his apartment window onto the historic Heldenplatz before the play begins.

The metaphoric center of the play, his wife Hedwig Schuster, falls dead into her bowl of soup at the end of the play. Both of these extravagant and unheroic deaths are directly related to what Bernhard shows to be Austria's willing acceptance of the Anschluss, and its active role in the destruction of its Jews. Between these two framing and accusatory deaths, Bernhard managed to infuriate much of Austria — including its Jews.

Unlike most other post-Shoah plays written in Germany or Austria, Bernhard produced a play in which the Jews are neither especially nice, nor especially Jewish; in fact, they are not much different from Bernhard's usual cast of complex, misanthropic, self-centered, and slightly mad characters.

Unlike most other post-Shoah plays written in Germany or Austria, anger, hatred and bile are unmitigated in Bernhard's play by any agenda of forgiveness or reconciliation, or by any metaphysical appeal to higher meanings.

Both of these provocative stances, as we'll see, engendered one of Austria's most significant postwar theatre scandals, and one of its more revealing political fracases.

The choice of a play which evoked the fiftieth anniversary of the Anschluss and the memory of Austria's Jews and their destruction, was not considered, by most, to be fitting. Heldenplatz erupted in an Austria still bruised by the campaign surrounding the election of Nazi collaborator and two-time UN secretary general Kurt Waldheim to the Presidency.

Waldheim, in his victory, proved Austria's determination not to see itself as anything other than 'Hitler's first victim,' an epithet long cherished in Bernhard's homeland. With Heldenplatz, Bernhard created a memory-scandal within the deeply etched space of Austrian repression and denial. Heldenplatz, like Bernhard's earlier play on a continuing Nazi mentality in Germany, Eve of Retirement Vor dem Ruhestand , is a provocative dialogue with the knowledge and memory of his audience; and as was the case with Eve of Retirement, the context of its performance, the concrete socio-political situation within which it appeared, was very much part of the theatrical event.

It is positioned close to the lovely Volksgarten the garden where scene two of Bernhard's play takes place , and near the famous Burgtheater where the play was originally performed. Two large museums, the National Library, and the old Kaiser palace are all situated around this central square.

As many have noted, Heldenplatz embodies much of Austria's national identity. During Austria's First Republic, Heldenplatz was the place for military parades and troop call-ups.

It was at Heldenplatz that the crowds gathered in to mourn the assassination of their right-wing chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss. And in — the important date for this play, and the most infamous event connected with that square — hundreds of thousands of cheering Austrians gathered at Heldenplatz to welcome Hitler and the Anschluss that ended the First Republic and made Austria part of the German Reich.

Bernhard did not need to detail all this history within the play. As always, he wrote for a specific audience, at a specific place and time: The public outcry against Bernhard's play preceded both its performance or its publication. It was based on passages 'leaked' to the press during rehearsals, passages attacking the Austrians, their government, their mendacity and vulgarity, and including historically accusatory sections such as: The media dedicated weeks of daily coverage to the reactions and debates surrounding the as-yet unseen and unread play.

Waldheim called the play an insult to all Austrians. He was joined by ex- Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, among others, in calling for the play's removal from the National Theatre.


Bernhard was vilified and even attacked on the street by an angry citizen. Bernhard claimed that he had to keep revising and 'sharpening' his text during rehearsals in order, as he put it, 'not to be left behind by reality'6 — that is, by the uproar raging in the press, the Parliament, and on the streets.

Egon Schwarz summarized it well: This furor austriacus, as the critic Bernhard Sorg called these displays,8 had as much to do with the public determination not to face their own history of Nazi collaboration, as with the determined provocations of Bernhard's play.

The play begins in the Schuster's apartment, three-floors above Heldenplatz. Schuster, a mathematics professor and a Jew, was driven from Vienna with his family by the Anschluss; he escaped to Oxford where he lived and taught for many years.

Thomas Bernhard - Heldenplatz

His brother Robert, a philosophy professor and the main speaker in the play, found work in Cambridge. Later, Schuster was invited back to teach at the University of Vienna and he returned, so Robert tells us, because he missed the music of Vienna. The Austria to which the Schusters returned was the Austria of denial and revisionism; everything about it seemed tainted, even the music. These perceptions finally convinced the Schusters to leave Austria and return to Oxford.

Before the play begins, all had been packed and made ready for the family's departure; a house had been bought in Oxford, the Heldenplatz apartment had been sold when, on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Anschluss Josef jumped out of his third floor window. The play consists of a series of discussions in Bernhard's usual monologic form, in which the life and reasons for Josef's suicide are interrogated by the Schuster's housekeepers, their two daughters, and brother Robert.

Characters evoke Austria's past, which drove the Schuster's into exile; and the unchanged present, which finally led to Schuster's suicide. Another vital strand of the play concerns Schuster's wife Hedwig who, since returning to Vienna, suffers constant auditory seizures in which she — and finally the audience too — relives the cheering of the crowds as they applaud Hitler's triumphant speech on the square below.

Hedwig has undergone various treatments for her 'condition' at the Steinhof sanatorium, including shock therapy. But all to no avail. This is hardly surprising since disease which is so often a subject in Bernhard's works is not the point here: It can only be overcome if at all through death. By the end of the play, the roaring repeating choruses of 'Sieg Heil Sieg Heil' will lead to Hedwig's final collapse.

Through these two framing deaths, Bernhard performs the taboo evocation of Austria's destruction of its Jews, connecting it with the Austrian part in Nazism, with their willing acceptance of the Anschluss, and with their continued refusal to 'hear' the voices of a still present past. Reflexive geography: This outer layer is combined with a complex and sophisticated recreation of the geographic and historic 'space' within which Austria, and the audience, are defined.

Through this, the audience is imaged as contained within, and complicit with, the stage reality they are viewing. Bernhard conflated the play's fabula with the geography of the theatre and city where the performance was being held; moreover, he evoked the past through the geography it shares with the present. Visual reinscription is one of Bernhard's central strategies for tying audience, city, and history into what Mikhail Bakhtin has called a 'chronotope': Heldenplatz stresses the simultaneity of stage and world, of past and present, of Heldenplatz as diachronic and synchronic site of memory and identity.

I will very briefly sketch out how this works. Scene 1 of the play takes place in Professor Schuster's large linen-room.

It contains one high window from which Herta, the maid, constantly stares down onto the square below, directing the audience's attention to the spot where she had found Professor Schuster's broken body. For this scene, Peymann had his set-designer, Karl-Ernst Herrmann, build a side-wall of the Burgtheater on stage, thus reflecting the outside of the building inside of which the audience watching this play was sitting.

With the Burgtheater wall at one side, and Heldenplatz in the distance on the other, Josef's daughters and their Uncle Robert sit on a park bench in Vienna's famous park facing what would, if the on-stage geography were extended to the auditorium, be the Parliament building.

The conversations between the daughters and their Uncle, resting after Josef's funeral, also centers on geography. Against the back wall of the stage Bernhard placed 'Three large high windows which look out onto Heldenplatz' This time, the audience can actually see the square for which the play is named.

The stage acting-area in scene 3 is centered between Heldenplatz, clearly viewed through the three windows behind, and the audience sitting in front. This positioning becomes vital for the final effect of the performance. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article.

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Claude Schumacher, ed. But his 'concrete audience,' it must be said, contained not only of Austria's Christians, but also its small community of Jews. When I read the phrase "things are worse now that fifty years ago i. As she begins to eat her soup, Mrs. Aug 15, Giulia rated it really liked it. He was joined by ex- Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, among others, in calling for the play's removal from the National Theatre.

From Heldenplatz: Eine Dokumentation, Welcome back.

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