frank wedekind was a bit of a voyeur.
benjamin franklin wedekind was conceived in america but born in germany. a man without a passport or country, he drifted through the metropolises of decadent europe, chronicling the burgeoning sexual lives of the rapidly growing cities.
best known in north america for his play spring awakening, wedekind’s dramatic writing was preoccupied with the unspoken and unpublished erotic lives of the post-industrial age.
the LULU plays are massive, dense, and strange, an expressionistic nightmare-orgy spawned in freud’s hysterical womb; a grotesque and farcical carnival of misogyny and aberrant sexuality. the plays have it all: prostitution, homosexuality, violent sex crime, paedophilia, a circus, and a hell of a body count by the end. wedekind is the tie that binds bu?chner to brecht, a bridge from woyzeck to the 20th century. expressionism begins with him; he is one of the first playwrights to stage our collective nightmares. writing through the birth of psychoanalysis, a period in which western culture began a deep investigation of alternative sexuality, his work is fascinated with all manner of sexual perversion.
unsurprisingly, his life was marked by perpetual battles with the german censors. he began work on lulu in 1892, finishing pandora’s box: a monster-tragedy in 1894. this play was later split into two parts and heavily revised as the earth spirit (1898) and pandora’s box (1904). the first was permitted for production, but the second, containing lulu’s encounter with jack, could only be privately performed. wedekind continued to revise the plays until his death in 1918, unfortunately the same year the censorship laws were abolished.