Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s "Garbage, The City, and Death". A Four Act Scandal in Post-war Germany

Schappach, Beate (1 August 2014). Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s "Garbage, The City, and Death". A Four Act Scandal in Post-war Germany. In: "Theatre & Stratification". Internationale Konferenz der International Federation for Theatre Research. University of Warwick. 28.07.-01.08.2014.

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Garbage, The City, and Death. A Four Act Scandal in Post-war Germany

The paper explores the dramaturgy of the scandals around the play Garbage, The City and Death (Der Müll, die Stadt und der Tod) by German playwright, theatre and film maker Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Published in 1976, the play immediately caused a scandal in West Germany, because it was accused of reproducing anti-Semitic stereotypes. The presentation sheds light on the different phases of the scandal and their historical and cultural contexts in post-war Germany – starting as a literary scandal in 1976, being transformed into a theatre scandal in the 1980ies and finally being dissolved by the German premiere in 2009. The paper is structured as follows: Act One: The Literary Scandal. Destroying Fassbinder’s Garbage, Act Two: Preventing the Staging of the Play, Act Three: Blocking the Opening Night, Act Four: Performing the Play in Germany. By analysing the dramaturgical structure of this specific scandal, the paper discusses the following hypotheses: 1. Scandals arise through the circulation of decontextualised information in public. This is due to either a lack of information about the actual object or incident being scandalised or a lack of information about the context of the object or incident. This lack is caused by the logic of the scandal itself: Because the play or the performance is prohibited, it has been withdrawn from the public, making it impossible to form a well-founded opinion on the controversy. 2. The scandal is driven forward by an emotionalising rhetoric built around the decontextualised information. 3. Once the gap of information is filled, the scandalising rhetoric turns into a rhetoric of irrelevance: Reviews of the first performance of Garbage, The City and Death in Germany considered the play hardly a matter of public concern.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Theater Studies

UniBE Contributor:

Schappach, Beate


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 830 German & related literatures
900 History
900 History > 940 History of Europe




Beate Schappach

Date Deposited:

01 May 2015 06:49

Last Modified:

20 Sep 2017 07:35

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Theaterskandal; Literaturskandal; Theaterwissenschaft; Filmwissenschaft; Sozialgeschichte; Literaturwissenschaft; Judenverfolgung; Nationalsozialismus; Antisemitismus; Vergangenheitsbewältigung; Film Studies; Social History; National-Socialism; German Literature; Theatre Scandal; Literature Scandal; Theatre Studies





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