Gerhard Rühms Worttheater. “handlung entsteht schon von wort zu wort”

Monika Schmitz-Emans


This article deals with the poetry of Gerhard Rühm. Starting from the claim that the experimental styles of writing put forth by concrete poetry lead to the development of new aesthetic categories and new forms of (self-)presentation. This includes the idea of words and letters participating in the poetic process as ‘actors’ (Akteure) (as is the case with E. Gomringer, E. Jandl and F. Mon). Essential to Rühm is the idea of a ‘Spiel-Raum’ (play-room, scope) in which the verbal ensemble’s protagonists take action. His texts experiment with strategies of self-presentation of language. In particular, this is the case with Ophelia und die Wörter (Play 1954–1971). Rühm’s texts are dramatic texts insofar as they are not to be read as instructions for acting but—very ‘concretely’— to be read as exactly what they are: a written theatre of words on paper. This is especially illustrated by his “mini plays.” Here, those parts of traditional theater conventionally referred to as actions and props are replaced by verbal elements. Yet, the reader as a necessary condition prevails, as s/he has to watch these words play and act. (MSE; in German)

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