The essence of Juan Mayorga’s Himmelweg is that melodrama in the face of atrocity, especially the Holocaust, is an aesthetic crime. The main character of Himmelweg is a Red Cross worker who is an accessory to manipulating Juan Mayorga is an oddity in Spanish theatre. ‘Way of Heaven’ (Himmelweg) by Juan Mayorga. Samantha Rahn as the Girl, above. Francisco Reyes as the Commandant A field of brown.

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This was the euphemism for the ramp that led Jews from trains into gas matorga. Such beautiful expressions in either language. Yet they mask a deadly reality — cynical euphemisms for the ramp that leads Jewish concentration camp inmates to their deaths.

They are linguistic disguises, just as performance becomes a disguise in Himmelweg to conceal the horrors of concentration camp life from a Red Cross Representative. Duped by what he sees, the Representative goes away satisfied that the rumours of inhumane Nazi death camps are untrue. Yet how much power does a performance have to deceive? When faced with the bombastic and intimidating theatrics used by governments today to conceal atrocities, are we – unlike the Representative – prepared to speak out?

Before his visit this camp had juzn converted into a model village. Any indication that the Jews were unwilling prisoners living in terrible conditions was disguised. This pretence of ordinary life fooled Rossel who wrote a favourable report about his inspection. In the first act of Himmelweg — a play divided into five acts — a Red Cross Representative delivers a monologue describing a similar act of deception that took place when he visited a concentration camp in Contrary to expectations, the Representative was not greeted by monstrous guards maykrga emaciated Jewish prisoners.

Instead, a cultured and affable Nazi Commandant gave him leave to inspect what appeared to be an unremarkable Jewish town complete with a theatre and a synagogue. Himmmelweg saw scenes of everyday life: Yet despite the unexceptionality of the things he saw, the Representative became increasingly uneasy.


He recalls that the entire experience himkelweg unreal and stilted: As act 1 myorga its conclusion the Representative explains how the tour culminated on a ramp outside a hangar.

Himmelweg – Juan Mayorga – Google Books

He considered opening the hangar door to verify this. Instead, unsettled by his growing sense of unease, and intimidated by the joint presence of the Nazi Commandant and the Jewish guide, the Representative turned his back on the hangar door.

The next day he wrote a favourable report in which he complimented the hygienic standards and general running of the camp. Years later the Representative admits that he was tricked by a mayoega of normality that himmelewg far removed from the reality of the inhumane conditions in the camp. Jews were herded off the trains and into gas chambers in the hangar.

Yet even with this knowledge the Representative insists that he merely recorded what he saw. He claims he was a victim of the power of performance. In act 2 the audience witness some of the rehearsals of the performance that ended up deceiving the Representative.

In act 3 the Nazi Commandant of the camp appears on stage. He directly addresses mayogga audience and displays the affability and erudition that the Red Cross Representative remembered. Act 4 is a collection of short scenes between the Nazi Commandant and the Jewish character Gershom Gottfried.

These scenes reveal how the charade that fooled the Representative was created. Gershom Gottfried is cast in the role of the mayor of the Jewish town to be constructed.

He is also forced to work together with the Commandant to cast other Jewish inmates as actors and to help write a script for the performance. At the end of act 4 we learn that the performance has successfully deceived the Representative.

In the final scene of act 4, now that the charade is no longer required, the Commandant deconstructs the process of making theatre. For him, performance mayorva meaningless.


After its conclusion everyday life continues. However life will not continue for the Jewish characters. The end of the performance ensures their death; their presence as actors in the charade is no longer required. In act 5 the audience are given a brief glimpse of the reality of life for the Jewish inmates who participated in the performance.


He encourages the people cast as the boys with the spinning top and the young lovers to learn their lines. Rossel visited the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia in The deception was so effective that the Nazis made a propaganda film about Theresienstadt.

Rossel wrote a favourable report about his tour. This documentary features an extended interview conducted by Lanzmann with Maurice Rossel in In act 1, subtitled ‘The Clockmaker of Nuremberg’, the Red Cross Representative recalls how he was shown the station clock in the camp. Gottfried tells the Representative that the clock was made from parts manufactured in the Spanish city of Toledo in This location and date have significance in Spanish history.

Toledo was a major centre of translation in Europe during the twelfth and thirteen centuries and was renowned for its religious and cultural tolerance. The date of the clock,is also the year in which King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella passed the Alhambra Decree, or Edict of Expulsion, which expelled from Spain all Jews who would not convert to Catholicism. In general, responses to productions of the plays have been positive.

Rafael Doctor Roncero and Sara Rosenberg, pp. Video of director Tanya Goldberg discussing the production of Way to HeavenSydney, Australia, is available here http: Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling.

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