Botho Strauß (born in 1944 in Naumburg, Saale) was editor at the magazine Theater heute and dramaturge at the Schaubühne, Hallesches Ufer in Berlin. He gave his debut as a dramatist in 1972 with the play Die Hypochonder. Since then, he has published numerous dramas, novels, short stories and essays. He has received the Literature Award of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1981, the Mülheim Dramatists’ Award in 1982 for Kalldewey, Farce, the Jean-Paul Award in 1987, the Georg Büchner Award in 1989 and the Lessing Award in 2001 among others. Most recently, he was honored with the Schiller Memorial Prize of the state of Baden-Württemberg.
The birth of tragedy from the spirit of the Old Testament
A diverse people yearn to be united and led by a king. God reluctantly fulfils their wish and arranges for Saul to be named ruler. His reign begins successfully; Saul wins wars and establishes a state based on firm principles. He extends its power step by step. But Saul is increasingly racked by self-doubt while suspicion, melancholy and anger cloud his mind. Saul, the source of the new order – rejecting theocracy for monarchy – is becoming its greatest threat. God is forced to realise that He has chosen the wrong person. But He isn’t the only one regretting his decision, as the old unity between God and humankind finally and irrevocably ends.
Botho Strauß has condensed a Biblical story from I Samuel to construct a portrait of a man torn apart by expectations invested in him, by the task conferred on him by fate and the limits of his abilities. In a clear yet highly poetical style, Strauß’s Saul depicts the birth of tragedy from the spirit of the Old Testament.