Theatre and Obstinacy – a Friend’s Perspective




If somebody living in Dublin and preparing a solo-performance for an academic audience in Cork retreats to a location in Berlin to rehearse for his upcoming show – isn’t that somewhat peculiar? One evening in the winter of 1801 I met an old friend in a public park.2 That is the beginning of the text my friend Peter was reciting as he strolled through the Kleistpark in Berlin. I imagine the way he circles, at a leisurely pace, around the green, time and again pausing at a verge or under one of the mighty beech-trees to practise a gesture or test a graceful move. Each movement, he told me, has its centre of gravity; it is enough to control this within the puppet. The limbs, which are only pendulums, they follow mechanically of their own accord, without further help.3 Walkers, joggers and Turkish women and children sitting on the grass and having their picnic catch the odd word or sentence and may wonder about this elderly gentleman in an Irish sweater. During his days in Berlin, Peter will be fully absorbed in his studies of Kleist’s On the Marionette Theatre (1810) and he will scrutinise each word (e.g. ‘rapier’or ‘vis ...


Peter Jankowsky (2000): Myself Passing By. Dublin: New Island Books, 55-56.

Kleist, Heinrich von (1810): On the Marionette Theatre (translated by Idris Parry);; 13.06.2015.

Negt, Oskar & Kluge, Alexander (1981): Geschichte und Eigensinn. Frankfurt/M.: Zweitausendundeins.

Kluge, Alexander & Negt, Oskar (2014): History and Obstinacy. New York: Zone Books (English Translation by Richard Langston).

Schewe, Manfred (2015, in press): Theater und Eigensinn – eine freundschaftliche Perspektive. In: Zeitschrift für Theaterpädagogik, Heft 68.