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Second Life of Tatenberg Camp


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A: Armand Gatti Pf: 1962, Lyons Pb: 1962 Tr: 2000 G: Pol. drama in 2 acts; French prose S: Fairground at Grein, Prater in Vienna, 1960s, Tatenberg Camp, 1950s C: 6m, 2f, 3 puppets (m), extrasScenes alternate between a fairground, in which Hildegard Frölick (29) presents puppets which summon memories of the past, and flashbacks to the concentration camp of Tatenberg, where some former inmates still live: Abel Antokokoletz (60), Cracovian Jew, probably a collaborator, now employed by Frau Frölick; Ilya Moïssevitch (45), Baltic Jew; Gregori Kravchenko (30), a Ukrainian boxer; and Manuel Rodriguez (52), a Spanish Republican. We also encounter Solange Valette (39), French mother of deported twin sons that disappeared, and Guinguin Valette (15), her crippled son working Frau Frölick's musical robot. Appearing as puppets are Frau Frölick's corporal husband, a Captain, and a private in the German army, all three shot as deserters in Russia. Images of Tatenberg Camp are recreated: the dummy station; the gas chambers; the ways in which prisoners exploited each other. Ordinary Germans suffer too: Frau Frölick cannot understand war: ‘The voice of the wind is blowing too far above them.’ Mme Valette seeks her missing sons, is led on by false information, and settles to live at Tatenberg with Rodriguez. When Guinguin goes missing, she commits suicide, ‘the first to die in the imaginary life of the camp’. Moïssevitch avenges the death of the Jews by shooting the German soldier-puppets, Antokokoletz, Rodriguez, and Guinguin. He plans to create a wonderful circus with Frau Frölick, but the ghosts of the past carry him away beyond her reach.

A: Armand Gatti Pf: 1962, Lyons Pb: 1962 Tr: 2000 G: Pol. drama in 2 acts; French prose S: Fairground at Grein, Prater in Vienna, 1960s, Tatenberg Camp, 1950s C: 6m, 2f, 3 puppets (m), extras

Declaring that ‘It is not easy to survive on a scale as vast as yours’, Gatti, himself deported to a labour camp at the age of 17, recognized that naturalism could never encompass the enormity of the Holocaust. In a series of fantastical stage images, ‘a carnival of compassion’, he explores the memories of survivors, both of the fictional Tatenberg Camp (based on Mauthausen) and of a war widow. The effect is that of Brecht on lysergic acid.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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