Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Swiss playwright and essayist who achieved prominence after World War II in Switzerland and Germany with his controversial plays, often linked to the theatre of the absurd. Dürrenmatt saw that pure tragic is impossible in this grotesque time, but "we can achieve the tragic out of comedy." Dürrenmatt was influenced by Brechtian technique and used the alienation effect, in which both audience and actors keep a kind of distance to the events and characters of the play. But whilst Brecht believed in reason and change, Dürrenmatt's plays demonstrated his pessimistic social vision. Dürrenmatt made his international breakthrough as a playwright with THE MARRIAGE OF MR. MISSISSIPPI (1952), which was produced in New York as FOOLS PASSING THROUGH, starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. AN ANGEL COMES TO BABYLON (1953) shows that power wins grace. Pessimism about human nature also marked THE VISIT (1956), in which money corrupts an impoverished community. Dürrenmatt received many awards, including The Schiller Prize (1959), the New York Drama Critics Circle awards for THE VISIT, Austrian State Prize (1984), Büchner Prize (1986), and honorary degrees from five universities.