The play Figurae Veneris Historiae was written by commission by the Slovenian national Theatre in Ljubljana, where it is in repertory.
Ever since the early days of my puberty I’ve been fascinated by the book “Sitten Geschichte des Weltkrieges” (Sexual History of the First World War) by Magnus Hirschfeld, originally published in Berlin in 1931. It consists of two volumes full of disturbing sketches, expressionist drawings, erotic pictures, posters and soldiers postcards.
Magnus Hirschfeld (1858-1935) was a writer and a scientist who published more than 500 titles on various topics of sexuality, health, politics, morality and history of racism. In 1919, in the liberal atmosphere of Berlin during the Weimar Republic, Hirschfeld founded the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Science). The Institute had a vast library and archive, organized lectures and medical consultations. As a Jew who advocated progressive ideas, Hirschfeld was a frequent target of the Nazis. He was often attacked and severely injured. In 1928 he participated in the founding of the World League for Gender Reform. In 1930 Hirschfeld went on a long trip in the U.S. and around the world. In 1933, the Nazis destroyed the Institute for Sexual Science and the library. Hirschfeld was stripped of his German citizenship. He died in Nice, in 1935.
Hirschfeld’s book was an inspiration for the play. Its theme is the impossibility of love in the political world. It shows war as human mass orgy, a bachannalia, political pornography.
The genre of the play is a tragic farce. It is equally tragic and comic to watch humans trying to wake up from, what Joyce called, “the nightmare of history”.
The conference paper will show the development of the play from “page to stage”, from the first idea to the first night.