Epic Theater & Post-heroic Management

Conversation with Heiner Müller

18 Mar 1996
News & Stories
Heiner Müller
Heiner Müller


The discussion begins with the parable of a frog in boiling water. It comes from the book "Post-heroic Management: A Manual" by Dirk Baecker, which is what Heiner Müller is currently reading at the time of the discussion. Kluge and Müller are interested in the guidelines and recommendations for the leadership of enterprises and groups, and in organization of work, hierarchies, and team building. As the discussion continues, they ask each other about artistic possibilities of such epic material. They talk about different artistic attempts to dramatize apparently impossible textual material (drama in the Third Reich, Malaparte's "Capital"), which leads to a discussion of the unusual form of Japanese theater, Bunraku. In Bunraku plays, song and narrator are not bundled in the person of the actor, but are rather distributed among several people. The discussion turns to the Berlin Ensemble and Brecht's ideas about theater. During his artistic production Brecht tried to "tap into" parallel forms of theater. Kluge and Müller point out that there are management courses in which theater is performed and also economic principles of organization that are integrated into theater. Like Brecht, Müller and Kluge are interested in testing the limits of theater. The functions of Brechtian theater are discussed in terms of the following aspects: theater as the investigation of real conditions, theater as the repair shop for older material. Müller complains about the compulsion to produce repertoire performances in the theater. In the last part of the discussion they reflect on Müller's own literary production: his works "Germania" and "Reich Chancellor Pop." They also discuss the relationship between the theater and the circus.