A: Friedrich Schiller W: 1777–80 Pf: 1782, Mannheim Pb: 1781 Tr: 1792 G: Drama in 5 acts; German prose S: Germany, mainly the castle of Count von Moor, and the Bohemian Woods, mid-18th c. C: 14m, 1f, extrasThrough the machinations of his evil brother Franz, the noble Karl Moor is disinherited. Franz tries unsuccessfully to seduce Karl's fiancée Amalia. Driven to desperation by the rejection of his father, and in rebellion against the corrupt and flaccid society he lives in, Karl and his friends form a band of robbers. While one faction led by the ruthless Spiegelberg becomes totally anarchic, even attacking a convent and raping the nuns, the main band led by Karl robs from the rich to give to the poor. Franz tries to kill his father by bringing a false report of Karl's death. The old man faints as though dead, and Franz becomes count. Amalia is forced to defend her honour with a knife. After several battles against government forces, Karl arrives at his home in disguise. Here he discovers his father incarcerated in a tower. Karl frees him, but the shock of their reconciliation kills the old man. Following the demands of the robbers, Karl stabs Amalia, who is happy to die at his hands. As the castle is attacked and set on fire, Franz commits suicide, and Karl, acknowledging the error of his ways, disbands the robbers and surrenders himself to a poor man who will collect a large reward for his capture.
A: Friedrich Schiller W: 1777–80 Pf: 1782, Mannheim Pb: 1781 Tr: 1792 G: Drama in 5 acts; German prose S: Germany, mainly the castle of Count von Moor, and the Bohemian Woods, mid-18th c. C: 14m, 1f, extras
This theatrical firework of the 20-year-old Schiller is full of overblown writing and melodramatic incident (including the distasteful murder of Amalia). But, together with Götz von Berlichingen, it helped to transform the future of European theatre, providing a model of Romantic drama: an episodic structure, the staging of exciting incidents pushing the capabilities of theatre to its limits, intensely memorable characters (the evil and deformed Franz, reminiscent of Edmund in King Lear, and the more complex Karl, at once thoughtful and impulsive), and, above all, a shout of defiance against a corrupt world. Popular from its stormy premiere, The Robbers is a staple of the German repertory, most famously being staged by Piscator in 1926.