‘Prolonging life – we’re good at that!’
Arthur Schnitzler’s Professor Bernhardi
Professor Bernhardi (translated and adapted by Judith Beniston with Nicole Robertson) is an unlikely comedy by Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler. First performed in 1912, it tells the story of a Jewish doctor who prevents a Catholic priest from giving the last rites to a patient who is unaware that she is dying. Himself a qualified doctor, Schnitzler takes a wry look at the medical profession, and at the politics and ethics of medical care. In addressing the controversial issue of intercultural tolerance and asking what might constitute ‘a good death’, the play is as relevant and challenging today as it was a century ago. This abridged adaptation of Professor Bernhardi, which also draws on Schnitzler’s archive and diaries, is a collaboration between [Foreign Affairs] and academics of the AHRC-funded Schnitzler Digital Edition Project. The production was staged in London’s Barts Pathology Museum in September 2015 and in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre at the University of Cambridge in October 2016.