Who was Tankred Dorst

Tankred Dorst is dead. The writer and playwright died on Thursday at the age of 91 in Berlin, as announced by Suhrkamp Verlag.

Dorst was one of the most frequently performed authors in contemporary German theater. In his more than 50 plays, the multi-award-winning playwright has dealt with questions of human existence in a wide variety of ways. Dorst's greatest and most beautiful drama is "Merlin or Das wüsten Land". His panopticon about the magician and son of the devil Merlin is still captivating today with its richly pictorial language.

Dorst was born on December 19, 1925 in Oberlind near Sonneberg in Thuringia, the son of a machine manufacturer. After returning from captivity in 1947, he first studied German and theater studies in Munich. He found his way to the theater via a student puppet stage, for which he wrote his first plays. He wanted, as he said, "to rewrite the world as it is".

Since the early 1970s he has worked closely with his partner and later wife Ursula Ehler. The two worked on the pieces in dialogue and practiced writing as a way of life. They kept ideas, rough versions, sheets of paper with dialogues in a pharmacy cabinet in their apartment. Well-known directors such as Dieter Dorn, David Mouchtar-Samorai and Jossi Wieler congratulated him on his milestone birthday one and a half years ago - and literally went to their knees in front of the master. Dorst could not move well because of a debris fracture in his right shoulder and remained seated in his chair.

In his work, Dorst always avoided classification into fixed categories. He took up mythical or historical material, wrote fairy tales and parables and also reacted to current political developments. In 1999, for example, the play "Große Szene am Fluss", written under the influence of the Bosnian War, premiered in Munich. In February 2005 the playwright celebrated another success with the world premiere of his drama "Desert" in Dortmund - a masterpiece full of age wisdom, thoughtfulness, skepticism and humor.

"I myself vacillate between optimism and pessimism," said Dorst once. "Everyone has a personal utopia for how life should be and then experiences a disappointment that it is not so."