The Death of Orpheus

Author(s):

The play is set in the period after Orpheus has lost Eurydice and has withdrawn to live among shepherds. In this verse drama Kafka does not engage with the day-to-day details of the ghetto. However, the work does appear to reflect certain aspects of his own life; for example, it includes an emotionally wrenching scene between Orpheus and his mother, who rarely appears in treatments of the legend. But Kafka goes far beyond the autobiographical. In his lyrical text he addresses the most profound questions that confronted his fellow prisoners: How much is one prepared to sacrifice for a loved one? What is the nature of artists’ responsibility toward those who rely on them? Can one make peace with death by embracing it? Although Orpheus inevitably perishes, Kafka’s work does not end in despair. His friends and companions adopt his verses as their own, perpetuating his work even after his death.
Format: One-act verse drama
Cast Size: flexible
Running time: approx. 50 minutes

Snapshot

Notes:

Support materials available in Performing Captivity, Performing Escape: Cabarets and Plays from the Terezín/Theresienstadt Ghetto, ed. Lisa Peschel, Seagull Books 2014.

Original or Prominent Production: Original production in the Terezín/Theresienstadt Ghetto, October 1943; production at the University of Minnesota (director: Juliette Brungs), spring 2012; production at the University of Northern Colorado (director: Andrea Moon): autumn 2013.
Nationality of Author:
Original Language: German
English Language Translator: Lisa Peschel
Publisher:

Published in Performing Captivity, Performing Escape: Cabarets and Plays from the Terezín/Theresienstadt Ghetto, ed. Lisa Peschel, Seagull Books 2014.

Production Rights Holder:

For information contact lisa_peschel@yahoo.com

Experience(s) Chronicled:

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