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Steiner as drama coach

The original Goetheanum was built not primarily as a lecture hall, but as a theatre in which to stage the Mystery Dramas and other plays (Goethe’s Faust, Ibsen’s Peer Gynt among others). Steiner loved theatre, and spent years as a drama critic in his “Magazin für Literatur” (one entire volume in the complete works contains just his reviews of plays that were staged in mainstream theatres in Berlin from about 1896 to about 1904 – I’m too lazy to pull it out and check the dates). When Steiner wrote his four plays (between 1909 and 1912) he was intimately involved in their staging, advising on set design and coaching the actors. Theatre remained a central part of the Anthroposophical Society to his death and beyond. The quotes below refer to the period after the end of the First World War.
“In Dornach at Christmastime the Oberufer Christmas Plays were presented – they still are to this day. At that time there were no professional actors in Dornach. Those who were allowed to take part were all amateurs. It was an established tradition for the Schuurman couple to take a part of the Angel and Devil, a fact which lead one child to ask its parents if Angel and Devil are always married to one another. This gave rise to great merriment in Dr. Frau Dr. Steiner and in all of us.” (page 40)
“These plays [the Oberufer Christmas Plays], collected by Carl Julius Schroer, are written in the Austrian dialect and it was priceless to see how the different actors – mostly foreigners – wrestled with the pronunciation. Dr. Steiner articulated most of the sounds, explained the meanings of the words and often acted them himself until the players could succeed in their efforts.” (page 43)
Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner-von Sievers
By Ilona Schubert
Temple Lodge Press, London 1991
Translated by John M. Wood
“None of us will forget what a performer Rudolf Steiner himself proved to be. His Cid was shattering. Danton and Robespierre could be heard and seen as if on the streets of Paris. Unusually moving was the lapidary scene in Lessing’s Faust fragment, in which the spirit of Aristotle appears.” (page 250)
Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
Albert Steffen
Verlag Für Schöne Wissenschaften, Dornach 1961
Translated by Reginald Ernest Raab, Erna McArthur and Virginia Brett

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