German theatre premières in 1922

One hundred years on, 1922 is remembered as perhaps the most important year for modernist literature, with the publication of both Ulysses by James Joyce and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Media attention around the anniversary of Ulysses earlier this year (and 16th June’s Bloomsday) prompted me to wonder what was happening in the German-speaking literary world during 1922. Focusing on drama, this post features some noteworthy first productions that theatre-goers might have seen that year, some more successful than others.

By 1922, the fashion for Expressionist drama, which had dominated the German scene for a number of years, was tailing off but expressionist elements still remained. This must have been an interesting time to work in the theatre as many of the actors and directors were also dipping their toes in the waters of cinema (many later went to the United States, either for political reasons or because of the draw of Hollywood – or both). It would also have been a challenging time economically as four years into the Weimar Republic inflation was starting to take hold. It is important to note that the premières took place in a number of different cities, not just Berlin, reflecting the importance of theatre across the whole of Germany (and Austria). I am also struck by how young some of the playwrights were – four of the six featured here were under the age of 30, Brecht being only 24. Continue reading