The historical drama of the Holocaust : assessing the transformation from reality to record / by Gary Heisserer
Includes bibliographical references (p. 462-483)
This essay examines the historical drama of the Holocaust by assessing how these plays reveal their history, what types of historical renderings the playwrights create, and the contribution which the plays make to the record of the Holocaust. The first half of the study is a theoretical analysis of the historical transformation occurring in Holocaust drama. Each chapter focuses upon one of three relevant disciplines (historiography, dramatic criticism, and Holocaust studies) as a distinctive factor in the process of transforming an irrecoverable past into a significant narrative. Each chapter in this theoretical portion of the study is divided into six sections. The first section focuses upon fact and its subjectifying potential in historical rendering. The second section looks at imagination, assessing approaches historical writers use to envision the past. The third section distinguishes historical writing by the types of generalizations made. The fourth section examines how formal and stylistic characteristics shape the parameters of historical meaning. The fifth section outlines functions of historical writing, with special emphasis on the linkages between the past and present drawn by the writer. Finally, each chapter examines how moral judgments and historical responsibility are assessed by writers and their audiences. The second portion of the study applies this theoretical material to specific Holocaust plays. The relationship between dramatic form and historical rendering in Harold and Edith Lieberman's Throne of Straw is assessed in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 also studies Throne of Straw, emphasizing the playwrights' assessment of the responsibility of the historical protagonist, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, Chairman of the Lodz Judenrat. Chapter 6 examines the depiction of Polish educator Janusz Korczak in three of the plays in which he is the protagonist--Gabriel Emanuel's Children of Night, Michael Brady's Korczak's Children, and Erwin Sylvanus' Korczak und die Kinder. The diverse approaches toward a single historical figure in these plays provide a useful framework for assessing how and why playwrights shape historical material into dramatic action. The dissertation seeks to provide a provocative method of examining historical drama in general, and Holocaust plays in particular, and to provide new perspectives on the specific plays selected for analysis.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:46:00
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