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The New Trial - PB [Paperback]

Peter Weiss , Peter Weiss , Weiss


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Book Description

April 3 2001
The New Trial is Peter Weiss' final drama, completed only months before his death in 1982 and never before published in English. One of Europe's most important twentieth century playwrights - often considered as influential as Brecht and Beckett - Weiss is best known to American audiences as the author of the Broadway play Marat/Sade and the three-volume novel The Aesthetics of Resistance, which has elicited comparison with Joyce's Ulysses and Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Initially influenced by Franz Kafka and later by the American Henry Miller, Weiss worked to expose the hypocrisy, the deception, and the nature of aggression in the contemporary world. A transformative "updating" of Kafka's novel The Trial, The New Trial presents a surreal, hallucinatory look at the life of "Josef K.," chief attorney in an enormous multinational firm that exploits both his idealism and his self-doubt in order to present to the world a public face that will mask its own dark and fascistic intentions. Fusing Marxist and capitalist perspectives in a manner that anticipates aspects of the current global market expansion, Weiss evokes a world in which nothing is private and everything is for sale. This edition of The New Trial is designed to facilitate theatrical teaching and stage production of the play. An extensive introduction by James Rolleston and Kai Evers situates the work in the full context of Weiss' life, including his Swedish exile during the regime of the Third Reich. In addition, the play's text is followed by interviews with Weiss and his original co-director (and wife) Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, as well as an account of the challenges of the first English staging by director Jody McAuliffe.

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From Library Journal

Published in 1986, the year of his death, this is the last play from Weiss, best known for the 1960s plays Marat/Sade and The Investigation. It is also the playwright's second attempt to adapt Franz Kafka's The Trial to the stage. His first attempt, in 1975, failed because it adhered too closely to the novel. This version integrates a lifelong dialog with Kafka's work into a new play that uses only the names, some settings, and an occasional mood from Kafka. It develops Weiss's themes of capitalist oppression, violence, and self-destruction in a contemporary claustrophobic world that Kafka would recognize. While not a masterpiece, this is a major modern work of political and social drama that experiments in surrealism and expressionism. This text also contains a substantial preface, a chronology, some notes on the use of Kafka in the play, Weiss's notes on the play and its characters, and an interview with the playwright. The New Trial was performed as part of a conference on Weiss at Duke University, and the text ends with an essay by its director. Recommended for academic and theater collections. Thomas E. Luddy, Salem State Coll., MA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

""The New Trial "depicts the loss of art's value with sardonic humor. . . . The volume includes an informative introduction by James Rolleston and Kai Evers, who have come up with a smooth translation of the play. An interview with Weiss and his wife, Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, is helpful, as is an intriguing essay by the director of the script's American premiere at Duke University in 1998. . . . Thankfully, "The New Trial" proffers a clear and compelling statement of Weiss's last thoughts on the powerless power of art in an age of global conglomerates." --Bill Marx, "WBUR Theater Reviews"

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