'Everyone's an abyss. You get dizzy if you look down.' -- Woyzeck
Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck was left unfinished at the time of its author’s death in 1837, but the play is now widely recognised as the first ‘modern’ drama in the history of European theatre. Its fragmentary form and critical socio-political content have had a lasting influence on artists, readers and audiences to this day.
The abuse, exploitation, and disenfranchisement that Woyzeck’s titular protagonist endures find their mirror in his own murderous outburst. But beyond that, they also echo in the flux and confusion of the various drafts and versions in which the play has been presented since its emergence.
In this fresh engagement with a modern classic, Gritzner examines the revolutionary dimensions of Büchner’s political and creative practice, as well as modern approaches to the play in performance.
1 Woyzeck the open wound
2 History, politics, tragedy
3 The fragmentary demand
4 Woyzeck in performance
Routledge’s Fourth Wall books are short, accessible accounts of some of modern theatre’s best loved works. They take a subjective but easily digestible approach to their topics, allowing their authors the opportunity to explore their chosen subject in a way that is absorbing enough to be of use both to lovers of theatre and those who are being asked to study a play more deeply.
Each book in the series looks at a specific play, variously exploring its themes, contexts and characteristics while prioritising original, insightful writing over complexity or scholarly weight. While other cultural products such as albums and films are well served by this kind of writing, the Fourth Wall series aims to find room between rigorous analysis and the short format of reviews or articles. They are extended accounts that get to the heart of their chosen works without being bound by the density that academic treatments can often require.