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"The stage represents the most powerful and direct form of art"
"..The history of European theatre may have been carried out as a history of identity [...] The fundamental theatrical situtation, therefore, always symbolizes the conditio humana, regardless of its different culturally-historically determined forms."
What does the term 'theater' mean? Does it encompass only those productions that go up onto the stage, with actors and characters with a grand tradition behind them? Or does it also include those avant-garde off-stage burlesques and variety shows?
'Theater' in Vienna at the turn of the century meant all these things. The stage in 1900 could serve as a study of contrasts, encompassing everything from cabarets to the Austrian dramatic canon.
There is no better way to see this than by looking at the period's playwrights and their works. From Hugo von Hofmannsthal, bred in the bourgeois tradition, to Arthur Schnitzler, who criticized that very tradition while being part of it, to Oskar Kokoschka, who sailed straight off into symbolism and abstraction, theater took on many forms. The playwright's works differ so dramatically from one another, yet still discuss similar themes and concepts - indicative of the issues that dominated Vienna's intellectual climate at this critical time period.