URMEFISTO

Jan Vedral

Cast: 10 men, 4 women

In his Urmefisto,Jan Vedralis commenting on the Faustian temptations under a totalitarian regime. A dramatisation of Klaus Mann’s famous novel, Mefisto (1936), is a basis for this play, complemented by the description of the real fate of the novel’s author and his former friends and colleagues, German actors Gustav Grundgens and Hans Otto. Vedral tells their story from the 1920s, when they started an avant-garde theatre together, throughout the rise of Nazi movement soliciting a different reaction from each of them, up to the death of the last of the three in the mid 1960s. The author is not attempting to create a docu-drama; his material compels him to show three different ways intellectuals can handle the pressure of a totalitarian system. Opposition to the Nazis made the first of them leave Germany and become politically active in exile; nevertheless, his journey ended after the WWII in total disillusion and suicide. The second joined the German Resistance Movement aiming at a determined self-sacrifice. The third succumbed to temptation: out of fear and desire to be successful, he started to collaborate with the Nazis to go on and confirm his adaptability to any situation even after the fall of the Nazi regime. Vedral tends to philosophical reflection onstage. This can be seen in the way he projects each of his fifteen scenes to a single theme that is labelled in their titles: On the burden of success, On alibi, On necessity of martyrdom, On subservience and fear, etc. The theatrical stylisation of his play is underscored by consistent use of blank verse and by the female character of Mefistofela who in the play does not perform the role of a classical temptress but one of a omniscient storyteller moving the action forward and bitterly and sarcastically commenting on it.

  The play is available also in German translation.


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