Wednesday, June 3, 2015

3 June - Change of Play - The Visitor

As we were a small group today, we had a last-minute change of plan and instead of reading Habeas Corpus we read The Visitor by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt.  This was a very different play to the one the group was expecting to read, addressing serious issues with very little light comic relief.  However, the group seemed to enjoy the play and discussing the questions it raised.

The Visitor, based on a real incident, imagines a night between the invasion of Vienna by the Nazis in 1938 and Freud's departure to safety with his wife and daughter, Anna.  Anna is taken away by a Nazi officer to be interrogated after she is rude to him.  Freud wrestles with his conscience over whether or not to sign a declaration that will enable him to leave Austria, and a strange, well-dressed, man appears in his room.  Who is he?  Is he a magician?  Is he an escaped psychotic patient?  Or is he God?

This intellectual play raises issues about faith as well as coping with life under the Nazi threat. 

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt was born in France in 1960 and now lives in Belgium.  After being brought up as an agnostic he became a Christian  years ago. He is quite prolific and has a large number of plays, films and books to his name, most notable Oscar and the Lady in Pink.

Much is known, and written, about Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).  Most relevant to The Visitor he believed that God was created by man's desire to have a permanent father-figure.  He died in London, just after a year after signing the paper that enabled him to leave Austria.

Anna Freud (1895-1982) was born in Austria; the last child of Freud and his wife, Martha Berneys.  She followed her father and worked in the field of psychoanalysis, particularly child psychoanalysis.

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