Where Shakespeare Met Goethe
In short, incisive scenes this novella explores the role of theatre, film, dreams and nightmares in and beyond life in a situation of sadistic imprisonment, and explores the way the inevitable and dramatic unfolding of their oppressors’ horrific plans impact upon the lives of three individuals (who are also artists) and their friendship. The novella has a contemporary feel due to the framing of it in the present and in the form of a talk to an audience. It opens with the main character, an elderly famous actor known only as Carl, reciting Shakespeare to the walls of a dilapidated barrack. His much younger friend, an acclaimed photographer and cameraman known only as Carl’s friend, and a new arrival to the camp, breaks the illusion of Carl’s apparent spell of madness with ‘his rescue’ of Carl by reciting some lines from Carl’s earlier portrayal of Goethe’s Mephistopheles on the stages in Prague, and by reminding him of their shared friendship and companionship before the terror was unleashed. Simultaneously, the backdrop of evil, and Faust’s pact with the devil is brought immediately into sharp focus, and is omnipresent in various forms throughout as the protagonists struggle with their sense of theatre and reality before and since life in the camp and their own use of illusion, illicit theatrical performances and dreams as a self-preservation strategy during their imprisonment. Lines from Shakespeare and Goethe’s ‘Faust’ are interspersed with the characters’ own reflections and interactions and lift the characters to a higher plain, and beyond the immediate brutal circumstances and oppression. The slow-moving opening gives way to an ever-increasing momentum as external circumstances plunge the two main protagonists into situations which force them to the edge of humanity. The work sounds very interesting indeed Patrick Spottiswode, Director, Globe Education The novella also exists as a play (updated by the author between 2011- 2013).