Theatre Research International



Heiner Müller as the End of Brechtian Dramaturgy: Müller on Brecht in Two Lesser-Known Fragments


David Barnett 

Abstract

Two lesser-known fragments written by Heiner Müller in 1979 and 1990 openly refer to Brecht and offer perspectives on the problematic relationship between the two playwrights. Form and content in Brechtian dialectical theatre are treated ironically in both fragments. Müller reveals an ambivalence that accepts the tenets of Brechtian dramaturgy in order to surpass them. Müller criticizes perceived limitations in Brecht's poetics yet redirects the dialectic for the postmodern times in which he lived. The degree to which Müller radicalizes Brecht's principles and practice represents an endpoint of (but not an all-out break with) Brechtian dramaturgy. An important corollary of this conclusion is that Müller is still associated with the Enlightenment project. This latter assertion is at odds with many readings of the later plays as documentations of ‘the end of history’, a category Müller roundly criticized in his life and resisted in his own dialectical drama.