When Georg Büchner died in 1837 he was only twenty-three years old. Despite this he managed to lay the foundations of modern drama with two plays – Woyzeck and Danton´s Death. Both weren´t sufficiently appreciated until the 20th century: the horrors of war and revolution that marked that period showed Büchner’s perspective to be prophetic.
Danton´s Death, one of the most breathtaking dramatic debuts in the history of world theatre, was written by Büchner at the age of twenty-one. He produced it during five frantic weeks in which he was constantly afraid, as a young radical, that he would be sent to prison for his revolutionary activities. It is a paradox, though, that Büchner – a revolutionary himself – was able to accurately describe the dangers of radicalism in his depiction of the last year of the Great French Revolution (1794, also known as the “year of terror”) – and also how the road to hell is paved with noble intentions.
However, Danton´s Death is not just a forceful depiction of revolutionary bloodshed. It is also a great drama concerning the clash of two exceptional and yet completely different personalities. Danton is a sensitive and self-indulgent sceptic who is becoming more and more afraid of the reign of terror. He begins to question the ideals of the revolution that he himself unleashed, and is fleeing more and more to the solace of cards, women and drink. His opponent is the cold, ascetic, tireless technocrat and power broker Robespierre, who is convinced that the path to a better world must lead through streams of blood. Danton´s friends persuade him to stand up to Robespierre – and Robespierre is painfully aware that the path to absolute power is not possible for him without removing Danton. But at the same time, both men are becoming increasingly desperate as they realise that they are just slaves to the forces they have unleashed: “Man is just foam on the turbulent waves of history,” says the frantic Danton.
This extraordinary and highly topical historical drama with exceptional opportunities for actors to shine will be staged by the director Stanislav Moša.