Erwin Piscator - Impact On Theatre

Impact On Theatre

In lieu of private themes we had generalisation, in lieu of what was special the typical, in lieu of accident causality. Decorativeness gave way to constructedness, Reason was put on a par with Emotion, while sensuality was replaced by didacticism and fantasy by documentary reality.
Erwin Piscator, 1929.

Piscator's contribution to theatre has been described by theatre historian Günther Rühle as "the boldest advance made by the German stage" during the 20th century. Piscator's theatre techniques of the 1920s — such as the extensive use of still and cinematic projections from 1925 on, as well as complex scaffold stages — had an extensive influence on European and American production methods. His dramaturgy of contrasts led to sharp political satirical effects and anticipated the commentary techniques of epic theatre.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, Piscator's interventionist theatre model experienced a late second zenith. Several productions trying to come to terms with the German's Nazi past and on other timely issues made Piscator the inspirer of a mnemonic and documentary theatre from 1963 on. Piscator's stage adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace has been played in some 16 countries since 1955, including three productions in New York.

In 1980 a monumental sculpture by Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi was dedicated to Piscator in central London. In the fall of 1985, an Erwin Piscator Award was inaugurated that is annually being awarded in New York, the adopted city of Piscator's second wife Maria Ley. Additionally, a Piscator Prize of Honors has been annually awarded to generous patrons of art and culture in commemoration of Maria Ley since 1996. The host of the Erwin Piscator Award is the international non-profit organisation "Elysium − between two continents" that aims at fostering artistic and academic dialogue and exchange between the United States and Europe.

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