The Gender of the Soul

The Gender of the Soul

Karin Wieland

Modern woman first appeared in the theatre. The relationship between the sexes was explored and redefined on stage, like in a laboratory.

When Gertrud Eysoldt entered the scene, she threw out all traditional notions of femininity. Hair down and bent double, she crept across the stage, embodying the whole misery of Elektra. Hugo von Hofmannsthal had written the role especially for her and at the premiere in 1903, Max Reinhardt showed the meaning of modern direction for the first time. Hofmannsthal referred to his actresses as »performers of new emotional behaviour«. 20 years later, Bert Brecht embodied the playwright and director in one. With the help of Helene Weigel and Carola Neher, he depicted female calculation – the woman who thinks of her own advantage, even in love. Neher and Weigel were Brecht’s instruments of political art. And this is the new alliance that Karin Wieland explores in her new book.

The Gender of the Soul

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