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AVG goes drama

“The Wave”, a novel referring to procedures of mass manipulation during the Third Reich written by Morton Rhue and adapted for the stage by Paul Stebbings and Phil Smith, is based on a true story. A history teacher at a Californian high school conducts an experiment in the late 1960s, attempting to demonstrate first-hand how the German Nazi party could possibly rise to power. The strategies and tactics he applied are largely identical to those applied back at the time.

“The Wave” was brought to Burghausen Stadtsaal stage for a student audience mainly – actually the entire years 10 and 11 of AVG went! – by four young actors affiliated to the American Drama Group Europe on Monday Jan 30. They represented seven (!) characters in all and the stage props they used only consisted of a few wooden boxes! Anyway, we feel that their performance was truly outstanding!

In the course of the plot similarities to the Nazi period became more and more evident, such as the use of techniques of mass indoctrination: Constant repetition of prominent slogans like „Strength Through Discipline“, „Strength Through Community” and „Strength Through Action” while offering a Nazi-style salute did not fail to affect the social dynamics among the students, eventually resulting in the brutal exclusion and harassment of students who refused to comply. Again, we feel that the actors managed to make it very clear how a large proportion of the (German) public could fall victim to an utterly inhuman, extremist political party, which eventually led to the dictatorship of the Nazis in Germany.

Even today both sophisticated and rather primitive techniques of manipulation achieve an effect on people’s attitudes and patterns of behaviour – not least in politics! That’s why we think that in difficult times like these “The Wave” is more relevant than ever – and that our visit to the Burghausen stage was most certainly worth it.

Text & Photo: Melissa Kirner, Katharina Sojer, Q11

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