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Beggar


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A: Reinhard Johannes Sorge Pf: 1917, Berlin Pb: 1912 Tr: 1963 G: Drama in 5 acts; German prose S: A café, the Poet's home, and other locations, Berlin, 1900s C: 10m, 3f, extrasRejecting conventional theatre, the Poet tells his friend that he seeks to dramatize his vision of ‘glorious sublimity’. In a café, frequented by Newspaper-Readers, Critics, Prostitutes, and Airmen, the Poet refuses to compromise his art for the sake of his Patron. He finds himself quite alone, apart from a Young Girl, who, troubled by concern for her illegitimate child, follows him. At his home the Poet (now the Son) confronts his father, a mad engineer who is drawing futuristic plans for a technological utopia. When his pen runs out of ink, he smashes open the head of a small bird and dips the nib in its blood. The Poet, at his father's wish, poisons the drink with which he toasts the future, and both Father and Mother die. After working briefly as a journalist, the Poet once again refuses to alter his play to get it staged. The Girl becomes pregnant with the Poet's child, and gives up her illegitimate child. Poet and Girl embrace in expectation of the renewal of life, standing under a starry sky, as a hymn to the future is heard.

A: Reinhard Johannes Sorge Pf: 1917, Berlin Pb: 1912 Tr: 1963 G: Drama in 5 acts; German prose S: A café, the Poet's home, and other locations, Berlin, 1900s C: 10m, 3f, extras

The Beggar, subtitled ‘A Dramatic Mission’, was the first truly Expressionist play to be published, with its universalized unnamed figures, its rejection of realism in setting, characterization, and dialogue, its destruction of the older generation, and its utopian vision. It was also the first Expressionist play to be staged in Berlin by Reinhardt. While virtually unplayable today, some scenes are memorable: the George Grosz-like café scene with its use of directional spotlights, or the portrayal of the mad scientist Father with his futuristic plans.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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