Heiner Muller's Democratic Theater
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The East German playwright Heiner Muller (1929-1995) is one of the most influential European dramatists and theater directors since Brecht. While critical literature on Muller often discusses the politics of his works, analysis tends to stop at the level of the text, neglecting the theatrical events that emerge from it and the audiences for which it was written and performed. Situating his study within Muller's interests in democracy and audience activity, Michael Wood addresses these gaps in scholarship, making an original contribution to the understanding of Muller's work as playwright and director. In 1985, Muller spoke of the importance of a "democratic" theater: one that confronts theatergoers with densely contradictory material that they must interpret for themselves, reflectingthe complexity of material reality and encouraging them to question their participation in political life. Wood's study shows that Muller sought to do this in his combined 1988 production of Der Lohndrucker, Der Horatier, and Wolokolamsker Chaussee IV: Kentauren, staged at a time when questions of democracy were at the forefront of East German consciousness. It also demonstrates that from the beginning of his career Muller tried to make theater that would create a form of democracy both within and outside the theater. Michael Wood is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, where he received his PhD in 2014.