News ID: 300326
Publish Date: 09 March 2011 - 08:51

Surveying a War Play “Beyond the Back Door”? Written by “Wolfgang Bur Short”?

Beyond the Back Door is a distressing explanation of the life of a soldier named Beckman who returns from Siberia to Germany after three years of captivity to find his wife and his children but in vain. He opens very door fir this goal but all of them are closed against him. Even after he kills himself the river does not accept his body and returns him to the bank of the river. The only door that is open is the door of death and Beckman remains alone; he seems like the scarecrows of the fields. Due to the importance of the subject, in the period after the German war, Bur Short writes in the beginning of his play: “It is a play that no theater will perform it and no audience is able to see it.”? Its first execution took place – a day after the death of Bur Short – on 21st November 1947. The play includes five acts. Its style is expressionistic and its writing techniques are special to Bur Short himself: Techniques such as making use of special tactics, for de-familiarization and reversion as well as revolutionizing the spectator. After this the lists of the characters of the play, a short introduction to the prologues of the classical plays has been written down:
Introducing the Play and its Ambience

Beyond the Back Door is a distressing explanation of the life of a soldier named Beckman who returns from Siberia to Germany after three years of captivity to find his wife and his children but in vain. He opens very door fir this goal but all of them are closed against him. Even after he kills himself the river does not accept his body and returns him to the bank of the river. The only door that is open is the door of death and Beckman remains alone; he seems like the scarecrows of the fields.
Due to the importance of the subject, in the period after the German war, Bur Short writes in the beginning of his play: “It is a play that no theater will perform it and no audience is able to see it.”? Its first execution took place – a day after the death of Bur Short – on 21st November 1947. The play includes five acts. Its style is expressionistic and its writing techniques are special to Bur Short himself: Techniques such as making use of special tactics, for de-familiarization and reversion as well as revolutionizing the spectator.
After this the lists of the characters of the play, a short introduction to the prologues of the classical plays has been written down:
“Beckman return to his home in Germany. There is no one to continue the paths . . . . . . .
He feels he has gone away from real life. He watches a film and step by step he becomes aware that this is the film that occurs every day.”?
The play starts with the entrance of an official from the burial office who is gluttonous (death). While he is making hic up he does not show himself to soldier who is about to kill himself; he talks about him. “His death does not change anything”? (a Nihilist Claim”?). Here an old man comes in (God). The Old man is crying and repeats some sentences:
“My sons have killed each other. No body believes me anymore. I can not stop them”?. The burial official accompanies him cool heartedly about the tragedy of this issue. The old man says: “that death is the new God and people do believe in God”?. The old man remembers that Death has been weak and ill before. The official says that it has become fat in the present century due to the business called war and this is the reason for its hic up. In the end of the scene death as the greater generation bid adieu to God to let Him go and take rest so as His emotions and excitements are revitalized.
A dream; Beckman opens his eyes and after suicide sees himself afloat on the Alba River. In the beginning the river turns him around like a mother but later on he would pay attention that its behavior has changed. It calls him timid and it does not let him to kill himself and the play ends with Beckman’s throwing up to the sands of the bank.
In the second act Beckman follows the daughter into the house. Beckman understands that her husband was like him a soldier. The daughter laughs because of the anti – gas mask that Beckman was wearing. They are eyeglasses which dims the world entirely. Suddenly the husband of that girl enters the scene with a wood under his arm because he has lost one of his legs. Beckman remembers the husband of the girl. Beckman had given him an order and he had lost his leg due to that order. So Beckman leaves there to go to the river and there he met someone who again causes Beckman not to suicide. Instead he takes him to see someone with whom he can leave the responsibility and the suffering of his conscience.
The third act is regarded as the highest point of the play. Beckman appears in front of his previous commander exactly at the time of dinner. Without delay he criticizes colonel and asking why Colonel has been eating Caviar for three years and the other were about to die out of hunger. He also talks about his nightmares for the colonel; in his nightmare a fate man (again death) plays a military march by a Xylophone made out of the human bone. The fat man is always in motion and his sweat`is blood and like a narrow and red stripe is pouring down towards his legs like the pants of a erman general. Here all the fighters of the history come out of the ground and make their presences. Beckman is standing among them, small and ill like a pale month and they are all chanting the song “Beckman, Lieutenant Beckman!”? Now that HE HAS RETURNED Beckman wants to return his duty to the Colonel, the responsibility for the death of eleven people who were under his command. Because if the colonel can sleep with the thought of the two thousand soldiers’ deaths then adding eleven more does not make any changes in the condition of the colonel. Colonel does not accept Beckman’s idea and considers it a joke and then he encourages Beckman to become an artist; Beckman steals a bottle of a drink and some bread that were on the desk and then exits.
The fourth act starts with the monologue of a director (the owner and the producer of a second rate theater “Cabaret”?. The monologue is on the reality of the theater and the need to a human being who is frank, new who has a conscience. Beckman is excited and expresses his views and ideas about war and his experience of the war. But the director tells Beckman to change his ideas. Still the director agrees to listen to Beckman; Beckman reads his poem; it is quite clear and obvious, brief and bitter as well as biting. The poem is on the war of the time; “the wife of a small brave soldier.”? But these poems seem very bad and dark for the director. From his point of view the spectators of the time need to be entertained and for this reason he rejects what Beckman says: “Reality has nothing to do with art”?. While Beckman is criticizing the director, he leaves the theater as well. Beckman meets another one for the next time and he suggests Beckman to go back to his father’s house to be near his parents. This is the first and the only time in the play that Beckman accepts a request eagerly.
In the fifth act and upon his entrance to the father’s house the woman whom he has never seen before answers “Mrs. Kramer”?. Through what Mrs. Kramer says Beckman understood that his parents are sleeping in the cemetery. “They have been killed in an operation conducted to evacuate the areas from the Nazi supporters.”? The operation had been conducted after the war. Beckman leaves there to kill himself; the other man follows him and in a long clash between life and death there happens quite a lot of many dialogues (this is the highest point of absurdity in the play.) Torture and misfortune are always available in the world and nobody can change them. . . . . . . . The world can not be made correct if we just sit and see. . . . . . . .
Briefly it is possible to suppose four ambiences and actions for Beckman:

1. Ashy / He is suffering.
2. Ashy / He has to continue to suffer.
3. Dark / He is west and cold.
4. Darker / he sees a door.
5. Dark night / the door is closed / he is standing out of the stairs / he stands near a river (Alba, Volga or Mississippi) / stands / insanely / frozen / hungry and tired / then he throws himself into the river / the wavy circles resulting from his fall are disappearing step by step.

The other character that is standing exactly in opposition to Beckman that if there is torture and suffering in the world there is also hope and happiness as well. A house would never stand on the basis of the unhappiness and through focusing on the good things it is possible to make better things or in other words it is a threatening alarm for Beckman because he is disappointed with his life:
“Are you afraid of the darkness between the two lights?”?
Then all the other characters, one by one, return to defend themselves. They can not help Beckman. Through these meetings the clash between Beckman and the other is persistent and no great change takes place. Finally after meeting his daughter and his – one – leg wife Beckman starts a long monologue with his spectator while he is very tried and disappointed. He asks the other: “who has made the path disappear?”? He does not get any answer. He now understands that no body remained and he is all alone and possibly he has drowned himself or . . . . . . . . .!

The condition of Germany after the World War II and its representation in the play “Beyond the Backdoor”? shows the destitution, suffering, defeat and damnation as well as the critical moments together of the German people and they form the bases for the shouting and roaring of the literature after the war in Germany. The writer himself has witnessed and felt very clearly the second run of surrender, the efforts of the people to create a new culture and civilization after the destructions of the war, depression and emotional failures, massacre and regeneration in the Nazi period and then the disappointment of the people with war and its difficulties as well as the downfall of the Nazi regime. Bur Short was also a Nazi soldier but he was anti – Nazi. He has shouted his hatred in his more than forty short stories and in his only play. He was sick during his last two years of life and finally he died in a hospital in Bezel in Swiss. The reason for his weakness and death was obligatory work in Russia; this was worsened after his return to Germany due to unstable condition of the post war era and finally he died. Wolfgang was the only son of the family; he started writing when he entered the army. The above film was translated into many languages and many films have been produced on the basis of it. Later on it was performed on the stage for a long period of time in Germany and later on all over the world; it is a play that seeks answer.

Bor Short’s play goes on to the scene one day after his death and this is while Bor Short himself was taking part in the rehearsals of his work until the time of its performance. It is a great masterpiece about hiding the truth and expressing one’s ideas very clearly. He was born in the First World War and dies in the end of the world war the second. Beyond the Back Door picture the internal events and the meaning of the subjects as well as the excitements and sensation of the German people who have tolerated a shocking spiritual stroke in a very simple as well as real language. Beckman is the representative of those captives who goes back home. They are the soldiers who have achieved their country after the World War II in order to make their lives anew. The story of the play is indeed an autobiography because Beckman is very much like Bur Short except in their parents. This is not just Bur Short’s story rather it is the story of his generation. Beckman (in other words Bur Short himself) comes from the word Eckman and it means a man who is cheated. Beckman and Bur Short are both injured; both of them go to a cabaret after the war and both of them lose their family members as well.
Bur Short suffers from the inhuman actions and therefore he chose Beckman from among the oppressed and poor people and in this way defends such people due to their truthfulness.
In addition this work is a new cast of Expressionism in Bur Short’s Methodology. It is a great reflection of a bitter and important as well as unprecedented reality. For example the imagination scene, the memorization of the memories, thinking as well as the internal conflicts of the hero of the play in the middle act is seen clearly. With regard to the auditory techniques this play is a spring of different effects such as Wind and water, the sound of the shoes, the continuous opening and closing of the doors and the sound of the stick under the man’s arm who has a leg, the music and the song, the sound of the mouth and hic ups of the burial officer who is entombing the deads of the war. All these indicate a text full of artistic meaning. The overall efforts on the part of the hero of the play against all the inactive positions of the other characters of the play; the play of reality; it is a worldly grotesque which is filled with fear, aggression feeling of guilt and the void imagination.

A Body of Condemned and Guilty Feeling behind the structure of the play;
Beyond the Back Door is one of the most famous plays that came to the scene of the German theater. In the first decade after the World War II there are few works who might have followed the expressionist before them and it is very difficult to find works who might have gone after the un – realistic methods and forms. Therefore this play is regarded as the forerunner of the German literature after the World war; still it is regarded as the best play after the war that is directly dealing with the war and its difficulties. With his only play Bur Short revitalized the expressionist drama through the return of the German soldier from the Russian war fronts toward their homes. Using the un – realistic techniques, the dramatic form specialized to Bur Short, faced the symbolic characters with challenges and special difficult situations and puts a long horizon of the values in front of his audience. It is a poetic idea and goal that never goes astray.
It is possible to say that the most important value of this work led to the lack of having a simple and clear answer to ethical and consequential questions of the war; the effects of war on the human behavior. The characters are afflicted with a sense of self alienation all over the play in the paths of the play. The world of the play is a world full of guilt and crime that has gone out so much as it is sometimes difficult to recognize. It is a world in which the religious beliefs have gone out of it. Of course this strategy, from a dramatic point of view, can not answer the critical events of the World War II; it is a trespassing world in which the only thing that has no value is the life of the human beings. Therefore one of the applications of this play is that in addition to the supposition of reality – such as an important historical event – it answers the ethical questions of its addressees.

For this reason many of the theatrical works which have nice subjects, although they were successful in the beginning performances, were subjected to oblivion and they were erased from the scene of the German Drama.
Although the works that have been done were all under the aegis of Brecht, making use of the modern dramatic techniques, Bur Short pictures his thought. His heroes do not come along with the present conditions although the other characters do. From this point of view he is different from the others. Therefore Bur Short advises the audience to accept his heroes because Beckman is a part of Bur Short’s being that is displayed. The world of the theater due to its lack of motion does not want to separate the characters from the Protagonists from an ethical point of view. Rather it aims at an un – ethical concept in general and plays with it; it wants to show “who is able to tolerate such a life?”?

In Beyond the Back Door there are no gaps or ruptures. Being is a secluded example of badness in a differently good society. With the existence of an ontological rupture, it connects the characters together. In the end all are out of the door. The musical prosody of the beginning gives the hope of dealing with an experimental work. A man returns to Germany to his house; one of many.

It is in the beginning of the play that we become familiar with the hero of the story Bur Short as a stranger. After a long absence from the Russian Fronts, returns back to his country to find his wife who as people says is in love with someone else. Still, he is a homeless man. In the first glance, his condition is simply worthy of mercy and compassion. He enters the house of a woman. At this moment the husband of that woman returns from Siberia; Beckman notes that he had lost one of his legs at his own order. Suddenly everything changes and the misfortunes of Beckman are multiplied. It is in this way that it seems the war has damaged everything. Beckman goes to his parents’ house and there he understands that all of them have killed themselves. He goes to see his commander; he sees death which has transformed in to a sweeper and sees God in the form of a decrepit old man who is disappointed with saving the human beings. “no body believes in God, anymore.”? It seems as if he has transformed God in to the shape of a human being and that he was ostracized from God’s mercy.
With the creation of such a world in the play, the goal of the play moves towards metonymy and irony. Whenever a person is sent on exile he falls from importance. It seems as if Beckman is intended to return the social status that he had lost. The dramatic chain of this event is completed with a character named “faceless”? and called the other. He is observing the loss of the life of Beckman with a void hopefulness. He continuously admires Beckman to follow his trips. These are just repetitive trips that worsen the hopelessness of Beckman. The indifference of the “Other”? is the ironic and sarcastic interpretation of the human interaction. He stops the movement of the play. The “Other”? is faced with Beckman through his power of words and then prevents him from suicide.
In a scientific way, the number of the interactions and contrasts in this work is completely self – made. It is for this reason that they seem repetitive. From the point of view of experience and sensation the characters have changed and they are replaced so as to decrease these repetitions. But still in the end every thing is at its place and does not change. The “Other”? vanishes in an irresponsible way. Beckman meets the fatigued God; the one footed man succeeds in killing himself but Beckman can not. In this way every character is subject to place changes.
“Beyond the Door”? with regard to the subject of the story, can come close to tragedy and epic but based on the structural characteristics it is neither tragedy nor epic. It seems that this play is more than the other genres of the play tends towards grotesque both from the point of view of the text and from the point of view of the structure and building; although it is not possible to evaluate it just on the basis of the genre of grotesque. In fact the play in some of its chapter comes very close to the grotesque but this coming close although it forms sometimes, but it does not continue. Horror, sense of vomiting, hate, anger as well as smile, is some sensations that motivate the addressees. For example one can refer to the first and second acts of the play. At this stage, three characters of the play follow the movement in the direction of the grotesque; anti – gas mosque defines violence and causes a sense of vomit. The character of the daughter intensifies it and fosters this sense in the audience and the baggy wool coat combines it with anger and laughter.
This process is repetitive and is repeated in the consecutive acts of the play but it can not be generalized and attributed to all the play as a general rule. Therefore, Bur Short, does not intend to show the war again rather he is thinking of the whys of the war which he thinks are more important than presenting a methodology.
Beckman committed a sin and has caused the death of single footed man and based on what the one footed man says he has cause some alteration of the people. “we are dying every day and we commit assassination every day. . . . . . . . . and we ignore these deaths every day.’ The world is filled with politics but still it is not what the politics wants. The characters of the play tolerate suffering and themselves are the causes for the suffering of the others; the noise of the stick under the arm of the one footed man is in a way a reminder of the mistake of Beckman. It goes so far as it turns to seem like the tick ticks of the clock and as the clock shows time the stick also shows the human sin. It is a nihilistic sign which means that the hero does not find any resort and will be wandering for ever behind the doors.
Life and death in such a society are interrelated. And an important issue regarding the death of the people does not originate from the existential meaning because life exists instead of nothing. The question is brought forth in this way: do I have the right to be? Is the haphazard world can be a place for any body? It is with the advent of this insight in Bur Short that the play advances. But in the end the hero of the play does not find the answer. After passing the fourth wall he talks to his audience. This is when there is neither the “other”? nor the other characters of the play. Beckman wants to understand himself: “Why are you silent? Why? Who does not any body answer? Why there is no answer? There is no reply. “this ending, in a way allows the readers and the audience to make their judgments. It is a progressive act towards the other side of solitude in the play. “By contrasting the dialogues between the “other”? and Beckman, the audience sees itself in the challenge of the question asked by Beckman. It is here that this seemingly long dialogue does not seem to be banal. Rather the question makes it more complicated. The discussion of the question in the end disappoints the “Other”? of having any hope. It is a valid dialogue whose basis is the re- acknowledging of guilt and Beckman discusses it in the form of a question and not in the form of a manifesto because the existence of a manifesto makes the end of the play cheap and the “Other”? to a banal and non – entity character. Burshort tries, through oration and eloquence, to show the values of the addressees so that the addressee can far from any ethical segregation and complete freedom find an answer for the major question of the play.

In the expressionistic works of the people before Burshort, although the return of the soldiers home as the subject and story of the play, but there is a great tendency towards the complication of the situations and the artificial theatricality of a severely involved spirit is seen a lot when they are trying to show an ethical solution or a method for solving the problem. While Burr Short did not follow this tradition of the expressionistic drama and far from every principle and rule of drama writing as well as literary schools, combined the essence of the expressionistic plays with a realist tragedy of love and then produced “Beyond the door”?.
But there is another down in the way . . . . . . . . .. .

What is so hateful and disgusting in this play is the war itself; every war that tends to separate meat and skin of the human bodies because in this way the life comes to its end and the spirit wanders and even the death itself does not know where it is going. . . . .. .

That the war is bad is part of the glass and the other part of it is what we have felt it. It involves seeing the lives and the bodies of those people who have sacrificed themselves and negated their beings for the welfare of the human life, freedom, reality of the lives for their people and for themselves and thereby they tolerate the ugliness that Bur Short names and accounts for; these are what have been forgotten in Bur Short’s play and they have no place. Of course it is not so surprising that there are differences between these two types of war.. . . . . . . . .

Writer: Vahid Nafar
Source: Book "Lost notes" to try and change "Mohsen Babaee Rabii," and by the Revolution and Sacred Defense Theater Association and published
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