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Tankred Dorst
Born(1925-12-19)19 December 1925
Died1 June 2017(2017-06-01) (aged 91)
OccupationPlaywright, storyteller
AwardsGeorg Büchner Prize

Tankred Dorst (19 December 1925 – 1 June 2017) was a German playwright and storyteller.[1][2]

Dorst lived and worked in Munich.[3] His farces, parables, one-act-plays and adaptations were inspired by the theatre of the absurd and the works of Ionesco, Giraudoux and Beckett. His monumental drama Merlin oder das wüste Land, which was premiered in 1981 in Düsseldorf, has been compared to Goethe's Faust. Some critics see it as the first major drama of the 1980s. In his tribute to Tankred Dorst on the occasion of the conferment of the Georg Büchner Prize in 1990, Georg Hensel remarked that Dorst's plays all have a direct connection to the present: "For 30 years Dorst's plays have responded to the great transformations. He has always been a companion to the times."

Dorst first directed the Ring of the Nibelung in Bayreuth in 2006.


Tankred Dorst was born in Oberlind near Sonneberg, Thuringia.[4]

Conscripted into the German army as a pupil at the age of 17, he was soon captured and incarcerated as a prisoner of war.[4] Until 1947 he remained in British and American hands. By the time he was released from war captivity, his birthplace had become part of the Soviet sector of Germany. He met his family in West Germany and completed his schooling. In 1950 he began studying German literature, art history and theatre in Bamberg and Munich.[5][6] Through the 1950s he wrote his first plays for the marionette theatre Das Kleine Spiel, (some together with composer Wilhelm Killmayer). After breaking off his studies, he worked in various capacities in theatre, film, radio and publishing houses.

His first major plays were performed in 1960 in Lübeck, Mannheim and Heidelberg. Since then, his plays have been performed in the whole world. Dorst's work has been recognized with many prizes and distinctions, including the Gerhart Hauptmann Prize (1964), Prize of the City of Florence (1970), Literature Prize of the Bayerische Akademie der Künste (1983), Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis (1989), Georg Büchner Prize (1990), E.T.A. Hoffmann Prize (1996) and the city of Zurich's Max Frisch Prize (1998). In 2006, he was awarded the Samuel Bogumil Linde Prize. He was awarded the European Prize for Literature (2008). Dorst held visiting professorships at universities in Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

Dorst died on 1 June 2017 in Berlin.[4]

Major works


  1. ^ Sheppard, Richard (1 March 1989). Tankred Dorst's Toller: a case-study in reception. Lochee Publications. ISBN 978-0-947584-93-1. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  2. ^ Sebald, Winfried Georg (1988). "5". A Radical stage: theatre in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. Berg. pp. 64–. ISBN 978-0-85496-038-5. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  3. ^ Dultz, Sabine (2 June 2017). "Tankred Dorst: Der selbstbewusst Bescheidene". Merkur (in German). Munich. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "Tankred Dorst ist tot". Die Zeit (in German). Hamburg. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Tankred Dorst ist tot". Der Spiegel (in German). Hamburg. dpa. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  6. ^ Rinke, Moritz (2 June 2017). "Man kann nicht genug vor diesem Theatermann knien". Die Welt (in German). Berlin. Retrieved 24 October 2019.