“A Spiritual Dance:” Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations

  • Naomi Rokotnitz
Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)


The protagonist of 33 Variations is Dr. Katherine Brandt, is an elegant and respected musicologist in her late sixties.1 Though her field of expertise has been Ludwig van Beethoven, she betrays no signs of romantic or Romantic inclinations. She is evidently devoted to her work, but her commitment is characterised by fierce interest and focus, rather than passion. Her brisk, restrained manner suggests she has always been efficient, and very much in control at all times. And this strategy has served her well, so far, at least in terms of her professional achievement. However, the play begins a few weeks after she discovers she has an incurable disease. The rapid deterioration of her health and the inescapable demands thrust upon her by her physical disintegration, force her to inhabit the body she hitherto almost ignored. The effect is not merely a re-evaluation of her life’s choices but an overhaul of her relationships—professional and personal. The radical cognitive shift that occurs when she becomes conscious of herself as embodied, just at the inception of that body’s dissolution, precipitates an existential reconfiguration.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Beer Hall Manuscript Page Romantic Context Existential Possibility 
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© Naomi Rokotnitz 2011

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  • Naomi Rokotnitz

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