Dantons Tod

by Georg Büchner
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Blurb

Set during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, the play takes place from March 24 to April 4, 1794, when Maximilien Robespierre was in charge of the Committee of Public Safety that, along with the Revolutionary Tribunal, condemned people to the guillotine. Guillotine victims ranged from those who were seen as too radical to those who were viewed as royalist sympathizers and even simply moderates like Danton. "Robert Auletta's adaptation of DANTON'S DEATH streamlined Büchner's epic romantic drama revolving around the passive, existential figure of Danton, a man who wishes to die in order to escape the horrors of the French Revolution. Auletta eliminated characters and combined scenes, but he did not change the story, omit the philosophical monologues, or minimize emotional elements. Danton's wife's suicide, Camille's wife's descent into insanity, and the contrast between Danton's passivity and his friend Camille's excitability all remain." -Ellen Halperin-Royer, Theatre Topics "It's not really a political but a philosophical play. The issues are timeless." -Robert Wilson "A political radical born the same year as Richard Wagner (1813), Georg Büchner was a student of the French Revolution from boyhood. Trained (like Chekhov) as a doctor, he wrote DANTON'S DEATH at age twenty-two as a way of financing his escape from arrest for revolutionary political activity. Reflecting his disillusionment with political action, the play was finished in only five weeks, but Büchner had to flee to France before it was published. He died in 1837 at age twenty-three years and four months. Unknown until the 1890s, Büchner influenced such modern literary movements as Naturalism, Expressionism, Social Realism, Psychological Irrationalism, Existential Theater, and Theater of the Absurd. The first of his only three plays, DANTON'S DEATH was not performed for some seventy years. But its classic status was instantly established in 1916 when the great Max Reinhardt staged it in Berlin. Orson Welles's Mercury Theater performed it in 1938." -William Albright, The Houston Post

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