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Challenging the Ghosts: Leopold Jessner's Hamlet


When in 1926 Leopold Jessner (1878–1945) staged Hamlet at the Prussian State Theatre in Berlin, the production created a major scandal. This uproar was not only related to aesthetic matters but also to the discourse of national identity. With reference to Marvin Carlson's concept of the ‘haunted stage’ the article examines the traces of this scandal in the genealogy of Hamlet on the German stage and its intersection with the politics of national identity. These traces indicate that German productions of Hamlet have always been determined by an implicit politics of exclusion. Jessner's production, by contrast, offered a radical re-reading of Hamlet, aiming to adapt it for the, then newly democratized society. The rejection of this adaptation by major parts of the audience, thus revealed the still powerful and active anti-democratic forces in the Weimar Republic.

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Theatre Research International
  • ISSN: 0307-8833
  • EISSN: 1474-0672
  • URL: /core/journals/theatre-research-international
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