At first glance, readers of The Hamletmachine could be forgiven for wondering whether it is actually a play at all: it opens with a montage of texts that are not ascribed to a character, there is no vestige of a plot, and the whole piece lasts a total of ten pages.
Yet, Heiner Müller’s play regularly features in the repertoires of theatres and is frequently staged by university theatre departments. David Barnett examines why such a seemingly obscure piece for the theatre has proved so popular, introducing readers to Müller as an experimental, politically committed writer who seeks to confront the shortcomings of his age in a compact and radically open play.
In four short, accessible chapters, this lively volume unpicks the complexities of the writing, considers the problems Müller poses for performance and discusses two exemplary productions in order to show how the play can engage very different audiences.
About the Author
David Barnett is a Professor of Theatre at the University of York.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Surveying the Scenes 2. A History of Western Civilisation in Ten Pages 3. Open Sesame? 4. Staging The Hamletmachine Conclusion