'Re-reading East Germany’: The Literature and Film of the GDR


Holger Teschke (Berlin / Hollyoke College Massachussets)

From ‘Faust Part 3’ to ‘Germania 3’: Drama in the GDR

This chapter will describe the development of GDR Drama under the influence of playwrights returning from exile in the USA, like Bertolt Brecht, and from the USSR, like Friedrich Wolf, in the late forties and fifties. It will also discuss the cultural politics of the SED after 17 June 1953, the ‘Formalism’-debate and the quest for Socialist Realism on the stage in the early sixties. Furthermore, Ulbricht’s demand for a Faust Part Three will be explored in comparison to the dramaturgy in Peter Hacks’ and Heiner Müller’s plays after 1961. The ‘forgotten generation’ such as Alfred Matusche, Erich Köhler and Heinar Kipphardt will be remembered as well as the influence by theatre directors like Benno Besson and Manfred Wekwerth on playwriting in the seventies and early eighties. The plays by Volker Braun and Christoph Hein will be discussed as examples of a new dramaturgy and the influence of Soviet drama before and after Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestrojka. Finally, the chapter will close with a view on the work of young playwrights in the first independent dramatists organization Autoren-Kollektiv and the last plays of Heiner Müller, Peter Hacks and others, that reflect on the GDR after German unification.