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Hoppla, We're Alive!


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AT: Hoppla, Such Is Life!; Hoopla! A: Ernst Toller Pf: 1927, Hamburg Pb: 1927 Tr: 1928 G: Trag. in 5 acts and a prologue; German prose S: Prison, 1919, and ministerial offices, lodgings, hotel, courtroom, prison, etc., Berlin, 1927 C: 45m, 6f, extrasIn the Prologue set in 1919, the reprieve of six revolutionaries in the condemned cell proves too much for one of their number, Karl Thomas, and he goes insane. Another prisoner Kilman is unconditionally pardoned. In 1927 Thomas, discharged from the mental asylum, seeks help from Kilman, only to discover to his disappointment that Kilman has become a Social Democrat minister, courted by financiers and nationalist aristocracy. Thomas now lives with one of the original prisoners, the progressive Eva Berg, who urges him to join the Party in the fight for true socialism. Thomas takes a job as a hotel waiter, planning to assassinate Kilman. Before Thomas can succeed, however, a nationalist student shoots the Minister. Thomas fires after the student, and is arrested by the police holding a smoking gun. After a psychiatric examination, Thomas is sent back to prison. News comes that Kilman's assassin has been arrested, but it is too late: unable to bear the thought of further imprisonment and destroyed by the failure of the revolution, Thomas has hanged himself.

AT: Hoppla, Such Is Life!; Hoopla! A: Ernst Toller Pf: 1927, Hamburg Pb: 1927 Tr: 1928 G: Trag. in 5 acts and a prologue; German prose S: Prison, 1919, and ministerial offices, lodgings, hotel, courtroom, prison, etc., Berlin, 1927 C: 45m, 6f, extras

This is the first major play of the 20th century to explore the failure of socialism, to set political ideals against political reality, as Toller was forced to do on his release from prison after his involvement in attempting to establish a soviet republic in Bavaria. At a time of growing prosperity in Germany it was a timely and unfashionable warning. It is also one of the first plays to portray a persuasive socialist feminist in the (admittedly peripheral) character of Eva Berg. Piscator opened his ‘Piscator-Bühne’ in Berlin with this play, staged on a spectacular constructivist set, and using a revised ending, as described above.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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