Danton's Death

Definition

Theater

  • A historical play by the German dramatist Georg Büchner,written in 1835 but not performed until 1903 in Berlin. The play usesthe struggle between Danton and Robespierre during the French Revolutionto present a strikingly modern, if largely pessimistic, view of political life. Danton is portrayed as disillusioned by the mass executions that have resulted from his zeal for liberty and seems psychologically unable toresist the machinations of his enemies. In writing the play, Büchner (whohad been forced to flee Germany for his revolutionary views) was expressing his own disenchantment with contemporary politics.

    Despite its length and complexity - there are some 40 speaking parts - Danton's Death has been performed successfully in many countries, enjoying revivals in Berlin (1927), in New York (1939) by Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre, and in London (1971), where Christopher Plummer won acclaim as Danton.In English-speaking countries it is often performed in the adaptation by Howard Brenton (1982).

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