Special K

Special K

Franz Kafka displayed theatrical flair from an early age, composing plays for his three younger sisters to perform. Cabarets and other popular entertainment fascinated him as a young man, and Kafka was especially influenced by the Yiddish theater, an emerging art form in prewar Prague: where he spent most of his short life.

A new exhibition about the author of such dramatic fiction as "The Trial" and "The Metamorphosis" fittingly presents Kafka’s life and works as a kind of sound and light show.

Visitors to "City of K.: Kafka and Prague," currently on view at The Jewish Museum, wend their way through a virtual stage set of scrims, platforms, outsize filing cabinets and surrealist film montages. An eerie exhibition soundtrack fills the galleries with slamming doors, shuffling feet and gurgling water: representing Prague’s Moldova River (the Vltava), which today threatens to flood Prague’s historic old city. There are also mournful strings and an adaptation of Bedrich Smetana’s symphonic poem "The Moldau," the tune clearly echoed in Israel’s national anthem.

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