by Georg Buchner

Georg Buchner - Woyzeck, Wozzeck

BBC Radio 3

Broadcast: Saturday 4th April 1987

"Woyzeck" follows the inevitable decline of a poor soldier who submits to harsh treatment from his superior officers in order to sustain his mistress Marie and their illegitimate child. Under stress, he loses the balance of his mind when he learns that Marie has been unfaithful.

Translated by John MacKendrick form Georg Büchner play "Woyzeck", written between 1836-37.

Broadcast: Saturday 4th April 1987

With Tim McInnerny [Private Woyzeck], Aingeal Grehan [Marie], Timothy Bateson [Doctor Clarus], Ian McElhinney [The Captain], Owen O'Callaghan [Andres], Mark Lambert [The Showman / 2nd Journeyman], Derek Halligan [The Drum Major], Barbara Adair [The Grandmother], Margaret McCann [Margaret], Aidan McCann [1st Journeyman / Sergeant], Brian Bell, Rachel Hewitt, and Catherine Harper [The Children].

Other parts were played by members of the cast.

David Byers composed and directed the music which was played by: Elizabeth Bennett (flute), Paul Schumann (clarinet), Philip Hammond (piano), John Leeming (violoncello) and Janet Harbinson (harp).

Directed by Clive Brill in Belfast.

85 min.

Notes on Georg Büchner (1813 - 1837)

"I find in human nature a terrible uniformity, in human relationships an irrepressible force, shared by everyone and no one. The individual just foam on the wave, greatness mere chance, the rule of genius a puppet-play, a laughable struggle with an iron law."

In these Kafkaesque words, Büchner effectively described his own creative life. He left only three works for the stage, but still emerges as one of the most extraordinary talents in the history of European theatre.

Büchner was born on 17 October 1813 in Goddelau. He came from a family of medical men and studied natural science. He hated the autocratic governments of German states, including that of his own Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt.

In 1834 he published Der Hessische Landbote (The Hessian Courier), a pamphlet which urged peasants to revolt against their oppressors.

Unfortunately most of the peasants who received a copy were illiterate. They handed it over to police and several of those who wrote and published it were arrested. Some of them died in prison.

In five weeks in early 1835, Büchner wrote the play Danton's Death. It is a pseudo-historical drama centering around Georges Danton, a radical leader of the French Revolution. In March of the same year, Büchner fled to Strasbourg after learning that he was to be arrested.

He also began work on "Woyzeck". Büchner continued to write the play through January 1837. He contracted typhus and died on 19th February 1837 aged only 23.


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