Page 57 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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ELIACH / THE HOLOCAUST IN HEBREW DRAMA
one thousand pages long. One may attribu te this to a new gen-
eration born after the H itlerian era, physically and emotionally
less scarred by the events of World War II. Its members are
fascinated with the T h ird Reich and try to come to terms with
the ghosts tha t clearly haun t them, as heirs to the legacy of
the oppressors, collaborators and victims.
The screen, and to a lesser extent the theatre, also seems to
be following this trend. The limelight is focused on H itler and
Germany’s top leadership during World War II, as in the rock
opera
Der Filhrer,
just completed by three young Germans.
One rock opera with sixty participants and H itler as its
superstar does not clearly set a new trend. Yet it introduces
a new element in Holocaust drama—heroic, Wagnerian-like
characters as protagonists, heroes totally removed from the
realities of the concentration camp universe and World War II.
One hopes tha t this will become a passing vogue and that
this trendy rock opera, a reflection of the current fascination
with Hitler, will not be the beginning of an outpouring of
Holocaust plays with flamboyant Nazi heroes, bu t ra ther an
indication that the time may be ripe for dramatists to make
a more aggressive attempt to come to terms with the Holocaust
period.
T he playwright, more than other artists, needs historical
latitude and an ample range of time and space. Unlike poetry
and diaries, the number of plays written under siege is min-
iscule. Even a generation after the Holocaust the harvest of
plays is ra ther unimpressive when compared with other areas
of literature. When the artist confronts the empty page, he
writes, consciously or subconsciously, for an individual reader. It
is an intimate relationship between two individuals. The play-
wright writes for an audience. He creates a reality to be judged
in public by a public, a reality over which he, the author, loses
some measure of control to the actors and director. Due to the
overpowering, paralyzing impact of the Holocaust, any drama
on this theme remains a risky adventure for the playwright,
audience and theatre.