Friday, April 27, 2012

Ritter, Dene, Voss

Ritter, Dene, Voss by Thomas Bernhard

The title of Thomas Bernhard’s play “Ritter, Dene, Voss” comes from the surnames of the three actors who premiered the roles in 1986: Ilse Ritter, Kirsten Dene and Gert Voss.

 It is worth noting as well that Ritter means “knight” and Voss is an aristocratic surname from the fourteenth cenutry. This is significant because “Ritter, Dene, Voss” is a play about the death of the Viennese ideal of urbane aristocracy and the horrible, beautiful flowers that bloomed in the rotting dung heap of post-World War I Austria.

The story is set in a stately old mansion where two sisters await the arrival of their brother Ludwig, who is returning from a mental hospital for the first time in a long while. They are rich, dilettantish actresses, who have never had to feel the sharp pinch of necessity. Consequently they are utterly neurotic and typically Viennese.

Their brother is a haute bourgeois Prometheus: a tortured genius, he is beautiful, frail, effeminate, and the author of the most important work on logic ever written.

The entirety of nearly three hours is composed of rants and recriminations between the three of them, denunciations and defenses of the hypocritical social order, and a painful because impossible search for “truth.”    [ source ]


Ritter, Dene, Voss, according to La MaMa, "explores sexual repression and sibling rivalry with characteristic tenacity and wit. The play involves two sisters – both actresses – and their attempts at reintegrating their volatile brother into their home.

The brother, a tormented genius (loosely based on last century’s great, idiosyncratic philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein), has just returned from a mental health institute, complicating the dynamics between the three siblings."

About the author:

Thomas Bernhard (born Nicolaas Thomas Bernhard, February 9, 1931 – February 12, 1989) was an Austrian novelist, playwright and poet. Bernhard, whose body of work has been called "the most significant literary achievement since World War II," is widely considered to be one of the most important German-speaking authors of the postwar era.

Thomas Bernhard was born in 1931 in Heerlen, Netherlands as an illegitimate child to Herta Fabjan (née Herta Bernhard, 1904–1950) and the carpenter Alois Zuckerstätter (1905–1940). The next year his mother returned to Austria, where Bernhard spent much of his early childhood with his maternal grandparents in Vienna and Seekirchen am Wallersee north of Salzburg. His mother's subsequent marriage in 1936 occasioned a move to Traunstein in Bavaria. Bernhard's natural father died in Berlin from gas poisoning; Thomas had never met him.

Bernhard's grandfather, the author Johannes Freumbichler, pushed for an artistic education for the boy, including musical instruction. Bernhard went to elementary school in Seekirchen and later attended various schools in Salzburg including the Johanneum which he left in 1947 to start an apprenticeship with a grocer.

Bernhard's Lebensmensch (companion for life), whom he cared for alone in her dying days, was Hedwig Stavianicek (1894–1984), a woman more than thirty-seven years his senior, whom he met in 1950, the year of his mother's death and one year after the death of his beloved grandfather. She was the major support in his life and greatly furthered his literary career. The extent or nature of his relationships with women is obscure. Thomas Bernhard's public persona was asexual.

Suffering throughout his youth from an intractable lung disease (tuberculosis), Bernhard spent the years 1949 to 1951 at the sanatorium Grafenhof, in Sankt Veit im Pongau. He trained as an actor at the Mozarteum in Salzburg (1955–1957) and was always profoundly interested in music: his lung condition, however, made a career as a singer impossible. After that he began work briefly as a journalist, then as a full-time writer.

Often criticized in Austria as a Nestbeschmutzer (one who dirties his own nest) for his critical views, Bernhard was highly acclaimed abroad.

His work is most influenced by the feeling of being abandoned (in his childhood and youth) and by his incurable illness, which caused him to see death as the ultimate essence of existence. His work typically features loners' monologues explaining, to a rather silent listener, his views on the state of the world, often with reference to a concrete situation. This is true for his plays as well as for his prose, where the monologues are then reported second hand by the listener.

"Es ist alles lächerlich, wenn man an den Tod denkt" (Everything is ridiculous, when one thinks of Death) was his comment when he received a minor Austrian national award in 1968, which resulted in one of the many public scandals he caused over the years and which became part of his fame.

Even in death Bernhard caused disturbance by his, as he supposedly called it, posthumous literary emigration, by disallowing all publication and stagings of his work within Austria's borders.
[ source ]


Photos and Video are from the Greek Adaptation of the play:

Ρίττερ, Ντένε, Φος Δράμα του Τόμας Μπέρνχαρντ
Σκηνοθεσία: Δ. Καταλειφός, Ρ. Οικονομίδου, Αν. Κοκκίνου, Π. Παπαδόπουλος.
Ερνηνεύουν: Ρ. Οικονομίδου, Άν. Κοκκίνου, Δ. Καταλειφός.
Μετάφρ.: Ι. Μεϊτάνη.
Σκην.: Εύα Μανιδάκη.
Φωτ.: Αλ. Γιάνναρος

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