‘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.

Arthur Schnitzler

Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) is one of the best known writers of fin-de-siècle Vienna, evoking in plays, novels and stories a world where all the old certainties are thrown into question, as a new understanding emerges of the human self and of the structures it creates, in love, family, politics and professional life. A doctor by training, and an Austrian-Jewish contemporary of Sigmund Freud, Schnitzler produced literary ‘diagnoses’ whose humour and humanity continue to resonate with twenty-first-century audiences. Previous adaptations of his work include Tom Stoppard (Undiscovered Country, 1979 and Dalliance, 1986), David Hare (The Blue Room, 1998) and Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut, 1999).


Anja Jacobsen
Camila França
Gavin Duff
Ian Keir Attard
Nick Danan
Trine Garrett
Will Timbers

Alessandra Armenise (2015)
Daniel Anderson (2016)
Franck Jeuffroy (2015)
Hugo Trebels (2016)
Nigel Fyfe (2015)
Matt Kyle (2015)

Judith Beniston with Nicole Robertson
Trine Garrett
Movement Director
Fiona Watson (2015)