‘How close is Angola to us?’ Peter Weiss’s Play Song of the Lusitanian Bogeyman in the Shadow of the Cold War
Peter Weiss made his international breakthrough as a dramatist with the two plays Marat/Sade and Die Ermittlung. Weiss’s next work was therefore eagerly anticipated, but the play Gesang vom Lusitanischen Popanz was met with disappointment. It was a propagandistic play criticising Portugal’s colonial involvement in Africa. Weiss’s publisher, Suhrkamp, went to a lot of effort to try to stop the production. Several theatre critics from West Germany who that attended the world premiere in Stockholm pointed out that Weiss neglected the more pressing political issue: the Berlin Wall. The reviews published in East Germany underlined the political importance of the play and the criticism of West Germany’s policies towards Portugal. Some Swedish critics found that the political issue was overwhelmed by the aesthetic form. In this article I show how the assessment of the play was deeply coloured by the establishment of the Cold War home fronts in West and East Germany.