Peter Handke

Definition

Theater

  • (1942 - ) Austrian playwright and novelist,whose work dispenses with the usual dramatic conventions in orderto highlight the problems of language and communication. Handke'sfirst play, the provocative Offending the Audience (1966),did just that. In his subsequent works, Handke further examined thedifficulties of communication; Kaspar (1968), for instance,revolves around a central character who is completely unable to speak,while The Ride Across Lake Constance (1971) seeks to show howpeople can become imprisoned by language; the work presents a groupof characters whose only means of expression is through stale andsterotypical phrases. They are Dying Out (1974) which examinesthe effect upon a personality of pursuing a business career, is slightlymore conventional in form and content. Handke has also written a dramaticmonologue about his mother's suicide, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams(1977). His more recent work includes The Hour In Which We KnewNothing of Each Other (1994), which features some 300 characters(played by a cast of 35) and has no dialogue at all: the text consistsof 60 pages of stage directions. It was described by one critic as"the most eloquent evening at the theater ... in Berlin today".

    In the mid 1990s Handke caused considerable controversy with his publicdefence of Serbia's role in the Balkan conflict. In 2006 he gave an oration,in Serbo-Croat, at the funeral of Slobodan Miloševiç.

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