A theatre of choric voices
Jandl and Mayröcker’s radio play Spaltungen
in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
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This chapter considers the vocal figurations in the radio play Spaltungen (1969) by the Austrian authors Ernst Jandl and Friederike Mayröcker. The chapter investigates how the manifestations of these voices connect with the theatrical phenomenon of the chorus within the medium of radio and the genre of the experimental radio play. After a brief overview of the history of the chorus, especially in the German context of the first half of the twentieth century, and a commentary on the Neues Hörspiel of the 1960s, the chapter analyses Spaltungen as a site of conflict between singular and collective vocal entities. The reading shows that the multilayered vocal structure relies both on the literary principles of concrete poetry and on experimental acoustic techniques of processing sounds and utterances. With this dynamic structure the radio play destabilises the performance format of the cultic mystery play with its hierarchical relation between the messianic male leader and the cheering mass of followers. The chapter concludes that the disembodied quality of the radio play can be read as an extreme reduction of the corporeal phenomenology of avant-garde mass spectacles and their fascist successors that tried to evoke corporeal presence even on the radio.

Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde

Experimental radio plays in the postwar period

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