Friday, February 10, 2012

"Und das muß anderscher wern ... jetzt uf der Stelle"

Emil Orlik, 1897
Wow, this has been Kultur-Woche for me. Theater, art museums, film to come. Tonight Michael and I saw Gerhart Hauptmann's Die Weber in the Deutsches Theater. It was kinda cool to see it there--because this is where it premiered publicly in 1894. Funny anecdote: after the play was staged, Kaiser Wilhelm cancelled his box seat at the theater. The play was also banned by the police (although the ban was later lifted). The authorities were afraid it would lead to class warfare and even uprisings in Berlin.

The story is based on a true incident: a weavers' uprising in Schlesien (Eastern Prussia) in 1844. The working conditions for the weavers was miserable and many were starving. The revolt was put down with military violence. (More about the play in German here).

Hauptmann was one of the few Germans who has received the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1912). He is famous for being a part of the "Naturalism" movement, making political, hyper-real plays that expose social inequity. In Die Weber, the characters also speak in dialect, providing access to a certain specific social milieu and adding additional class distinctions through spoken language.
As you can see from these pictures, the stage was a two-tiered ladder. During the first two scenes we thought this worked especially well, as they critiqued the hierarchy of the factory and the powerlessness of the weavers. But after the third act I think the performance kinda deteriorated. We both agreed that it was the material, the play itself, that made it, and the performance detracted at times. And of course there was quite a bit of the yelling, spitting, and screaming we looove so much in the German theater...Although it did admittedly work better here than in Kleist.

the Weberlied:
"Hier im Ort ist en Gericht, / noch schlimmer als die Vehmen, / Wo man nicht erst ein Urteil spricht / das Leben schnell zu nehmen. / - Hier wird der Mensch langsam gequält / hier ist die Folterkammer, / hier werden Seufzer viel gezählt / als Zeugen von dem Jammer."

1 comment:

  1. Liebe Katrine!
    Ich wunsche dass ich Deutsche als dich gesprochen. Auch denke ich das du die selbe denke!!!!!!!!!