Georg Kaiser

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Not to be confused with George Kaiser. Georg Kaiser_sentence_0

Friedrich Carl Georg Kaiser, called Georg Kaiser, (25 November 1878 – 4 June 1945) was a German dramatist. Georg Kaiser_sentence_1

Biography Georg Kaiser_section_0

Kaiser was born in Magdeburg. Georg Kaiser_sentence_2

He was highly prolific and wrote in a number of different styles. Georg Kaiser_sentence_3

An Expressionist dramatist, he was, along with Gerhart Hauptmann, the most frequently performed playwright of the Weimar Republic. Georg Kaiser_sentence_4

Georg Kaiser's plays include The Burghers of Calais (1913), From Morning to Midnight (1912), and a trilogy, comprising The Coral (1917), Gas (1918), Gas II (1920). Georg Kaiser_sentence_5

He died in Ascona, Switzerland, and was buried in Morcote near Lugano. Georg Kaiser_sentence_6

Work Georg Kaiser_section_1

The Burghers of Calais (Die Bürger von Calais), written in 1913, was not performed until 1917. Georg Kaiser_sentence_7

It was Kaiser's first success. Georg Kaiser_sentence_8

The play is very dense linguistically, with its dialogue comprising numerous emotive monologues influenced by the Telegramstil poetics of August Stramm. Georg Kaiser_sentence_9

Like Kaiser's other works of the period, it bears the mark of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy, calling upon the modern individual to transcend mediocrity through extraordinary actions; the Expressionist 'New Man' became a commonplace of the genre. Georg Kaiser_sentence_10

From Morn to Midnight, filmed by Karlheinz Martin in 1920, was written in 1912 and first performed in 1917. Georg Kaiser_sentence_11

One of the most frequently performed works of German Expressionist theatre, its plot concerns a Cashier (played by Ernst Deutsch in Martin's film) in a small bank in W. (ostensibly Weimar) who is alerted to the power of money by the visit of a rich Italian lady. Georg Kaiser_sentence_12

He embezzles 60,000 Marks and absconds to B. Georg Kaiser_sentence_13

(Berlin) where he attempts to find transcendent experiences in sport, romance and religion, only to be ultimately frustrated. Georg Kaiser_sentence_14

Kaiser's classic Expressionist plays, written just before and during World War I, often called for man to make a decisive break with the past, rejuvenating contemporary society. Georg Kaiser_sentence_15

He eschewed characterization, and particularly character psychology, instead making his protagonists and other characters archetypes, employing highly anti-naturalistic dialogue often comprising lengthy individual speeches. Georg Kaiser_sentence_16

Kaiser's drama Side by Side (Nebeneinander, 1923), a 'people's play' (Volksstück), premiered in Berlin on 3 November 1923, directed by Berthold Viertel with design by George Grosz. Georg Kaiser_sentence_17

With this play Kaiser moved away from the Expressionism of his previous works. Georg Kaiser_sentence_18

Utilizing a more rounded characterization and more realistic curt, comic dialogue to tell a light-hearted story of an idealistic pawnbroker caught up in the hyperinflation afflicting Germany at the time (the currency stabilization came a fortnight after the play opened), the play inaugurated the 'new sobriety' (Neue Sachlichkeit) in the drama. Georg Kaiser_sentence_19

"Kaiser has left the cloud that used to surround him," a review in the Weltbühne suggested, "and landed with both feet on the earth." Georg Kaiser_sentence_20

Kaiser's plays, particularly From Morning to Midnight, were highly influential on the German dramatists operating during the 1920s, including Iwan Goll, Ernst Toller and Bertolt Brecht, who drew on Kaiser's use of revue-type scenes and parable, which was influenced by medieval and 16th-century German mystery plays. Georg Kaiser_sentence_21

Kaiser collaborated with the composer Kurt Weill on his one-act operas Der Protagonist (1926) and Der Zar lässt sich photographieren (1928), also Der Silbersee (1933). Georg Kaiser_sentence_22

In his later years, he further developed his criticism of the modern machine age that had characterised the Gas trilogy. Georg Kaiser_sentence_23

Imprisoned briefly in 1923 for stealing a loaf of bread during the hyper-inflationary crisis, Kaiser fled to Switzerland when the Nazis came to power in the 1930s (Kaiser went into exile in 1938). Georg Kaiser_sentence_24

There he turned to writing verse dramas on mythological themes, including Pygmalion, Amphitryon, and Bellerophon, and a pacifist drama, The Soldier Tanaka (1940). Georg Kaiser_sentence_25

The Raft of the Medusa (1945) is a play written in verse that reverses the ethos of The Burghers of Calais in a more pessimistic direction; to avoid bad luck, thirteen children on a life-raft drown the youngest of them. Georg Kaiser_sentence_26

(See the frigate Méduse for the historical shipwreck and The Raft of the Medusa for its famous depiction in art.) Georg Kaiser_sentence_27

Plays Georg Kaiser_section_2

Georg Kaiser_unordered_list_0

  • 1914: Die Bürger von Calais (The Burghers of Calais)Georg Kaiser_item_0_0
  • 1916: Von Morgens bis MitternachtsGeorg Kaiser_item_0_1
  • 1917: Die KoralleGeorg Kaiser_item_0_2
  • 1918: Gas IGeorg Kaiser_item_0_3
  • 1920: Gas IIGeorg Kaiser_item_0_4
  • 1923: Gilles und JohannaGeorg Kaiser_item_0_5
  • 1928: OktobertagGeorg Kaiser_item_0_6
  • 1938: Die Gärtner von ToulouseGeorg Kaiser_item_0_7
  • 1940: Alain und EliseGeorg Kaiser_item_0_8

Selected filmography Georg Kaiser_section_3

Film adaptations Georg Kaiser_section_4

Georg Kaiser_unordered_list_1

Screenwriter Georg Kaiser_section_5

Georg Kaiser_unordered_list_2

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Kaiser.