For my meeting with Franz Xaver Kroetz I had to travel from Bochum, where his new play Furcht und Hoffnung der BRD (Fear and Hope of the German Federal Republic) was in rehearsal, to Munich, where he was rehearsing the title role of Büchner's Woyzeck, for a production at the Kammerspiele.

A train trip from Northern to Southern Germany offers a first-hand experience of the geography of Kroetz's plays, from the desolate neatness of rows of soot-covered houses in the industrial Ruhr area to the awesome historicity of the medieval castles atop vineyard-covered hills along the Rhine, and finally to the lonely rural stretches of Bavaria, the heart of “Kroetz country.” The faces and accents of the people entering my train compartment kept changing accordingly, each voice charting the landscapes outside and inside on this Ride Across the BRD in the death of winter, through blizzards, along icy roads and frozen waters. Season and surroundings became chillingly obvious metaphors for the all-pervasive sense of Angst, a very specific fear, of the nuclear threat, intensified by the recent installment of the Pershings, of Reagan's political rhetoric and military zeal, of the Americans. It haunted my conversation with Kroetz which took place in his Munich apartment, where he lives with Alexandra Weinert.

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