The Real Woyzeck

I found this in the appendix section of the Danton’s Death, Leonce and Lena, and Woyzeck book, just after the Woyzeck play on page 133. It is interesting to see how accurate Büchner was being when he wrote the play about Woyzeck. I think some things may have been tweaked slightly to make it more of a liner story.

“The historical Woyzeck, according 10 the account of him by Dr J. C A. Clraus, published in 1825 in the Zeitschrift für die Staatsarzneikunde, was a rolling stone who lost his parents early and wandered all over Germany looking for work in the difficult 1790s. He became a soldier, was captured by the Swedes, and entered the Swedish armed service, only to be sent back to Germany and have his regiment disbanded by the French. He then joined the Mecklenburg army, but deserted to the Swedes again because of a girl in Stralsund, by whom he had had a child out of wedlock. Then came the Congress of Vienna, which gave Swedish Pomerania to Prussia; Woyzeck’s regiment was transferred en bloc to the Prussian army. This was not to Woyzeck’s taste, so be asked for demobilization and returned to his native city of Leipzig in search of work. He was a hairdresser. Unfortu­nately times were hard, and Woyzeck became more and more dependent on other people’s charity. He tried to enlist in the Saxon army but was turned down on the grounds that his demobilization papers were not in order. In the meantime he had formed a liaison with Frau Woost, the daughter of a surgeon; but she had a weakness for soldiers, and refused to appear in public with Woyzeck. In a fit of jealous despair he stabbed her on 21st June 1821″

Büchner. G. (2008) Danton’s Death, Leonce and Lena, and Woyzeck. Oxford world classics. Oxford

Woyzeck – The Play

This is a review on Woyzeck(dvd version) – “Woyzeck, is tormented in private by visions of the apocalypse, and tormented in public by the unbearable weight of social pressure. He descends into madness and murder.
A morality play with more than a nod toward Becket and Breecht, this adaptation of Georg Buckners play once again has Kinski in astonishing form and Herzog showing a stark, harsh reality that exposes hidden rebellion and suffering in common man.”  (accessed 1st march 2011)

I think this review is pretty much what the group is looking to achieve. Not to show that Woyzeck is insane but to show that the world around him, the pressures from society is driving him to insanity. I think we show this in the performance in the doctor scene when all the characters place their chalk covered hands all over Woyzecks body. This is a way of showing that everyone is having a touch or impact on his life, something that he has no control over.

Woyzeck Character Development

On this part of the blog I will be describing the process that I have gone through to get my version of the character Woyzeck. Starting from my first initial ideas about how I could play the character, how those have developed and how I aim to develop them further.

At first when the play Woyzeck was described to me (before reading it), I had the idea that the character Woyzeck would have the characteristics of a twitchy nervous mental patient (similar to the kind Brad Pitt plays in Twelve Monkeys film) and having such character traits as fast head twitches and jolts, big wide eyes and lots of fidgeting. I had this first initial idea because the description of the character that was given to me described him as mentally unstable and somewhat scary.

After the first read through I understood more what Woyzeck had to go through, for instance; his wife cheats on him and doctors doing experiments on him. This gave me a much clearer idea of what Woyzeck would be like. I think he would be less likely to twitch and fidget, as this would show a sort of deranged person, but more likely to stand and stare off into space on a regular basis and loose all concentration.


Woyzeck (shaving scene)

I found this recording of a contemporised performance of Woyzeck. I think this is a great example of how NOT to do it. (Despite the terrible acting) I think that the Woyzeck tries to jump from being funny to being scared and jumpy, which does not work at all. It’s clear from this performance that the script is a very delicate thing. Also it’s clear that the audience perception is delicate if the actor’s intentions are not clear. Jumping from trying to be funny to trying to gain sympathy from the audience is not going to work. It plays too much with the audience and leaves them unaware of whether they should be laughing at or feeling sorry for Woyzeck.

I noticed after watching this Youtube video of how that theatre company tried to perform Woyzeck, that the character Woyzeck is fragile. Fragile in the sense of the audience interpretations of him, if it’s not made clear Woyzeck’s emotion then it will mess the whole performance up. I from this point made it my mission to ensure that the audience’s interpretation of Woyzeck is that he is being destroyed from the outside in. as hard as it is for me to not make things funny or to might light out of situations, I didn’t want to make Woyzeck funny. I’ve grown to truly understand the torture that Woyzeck is feeling and the only laughing the audience would be doing towards Woyzeck would be awkward laughing, because are not sure about how else to act.