PRINT March 1991


Life goes on. More than it deserves.

—Karl Kraus

CAN ONE EMERGE FROM the Last Judgment alive? Yes, if one betrays the Last Judgment for theater. Luca Ronconi proposed and achieved this betrayal in the staging of Die letzten Tage der Menschheit (The last days of mankind), the monumental “tragedy in five acts with prelude and epilogue” written by Karl Kraus between 1915 and 1919. The author himself always maintained a hostile attitude toward the possibility of the work’s being performed—turning down even directors like Max Reinhardt and Erwin Piscator—preferring to have the piece presented through various public readings. Only in 1964, approximately thirty years after Kraus’ death, was the work first performed in his native Vienna.

It would take some fifty hours to perform Kraus’ work in its entirety. Die letzten Tage der Menschheit is a gigantic kaleidoscopic view of the effects of the World

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