Gas Trilogy, The (The Coral; Gas I; Gas II)

'Gas Trilogy, The (The Coral; Gas I; Gas II)' can also refer to...


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A: Georg Kaiser Pf: (1) 1917, Munich and Frankfurt; (2) 1918, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf; (3) 1920, Brünn (Brno) Pb: (1) 1917; (2) 1918; (3) 1920 Tr: (1) 1963; (2) 1925; (3) 1963 G: Trilogy of three dramas: (1) 5 acts, (2) 5 acts, and (3) 3 acts; German prose S: (1) Margarine factory and at sea, early 20th c.; (2) A gas factory, mid-20th c.; (3) The same gas factory, late 20th c. C: (1) 19m, 3f, extras; (2) 15m, 4f, extras; (3) 15m, extras(1) The Coral (Die Koralle). The Billionaire (or Millionaire) is the autocratic boss of a margarine factory, intent on acquiring as much wealth as possible in order to create a distance between himself and his unhappy poverty-stricken childhood. He makes regular gifts to the poor to salve his conscience, but, so that he can avoid contact with the downtrodden, gets his secretary to hand out alms. The Secretary is the secret double of the Billionaire, distinguishable only by the coral he wears on his watch chain. The Billionaire's son rebels against his father and becomes a stoker on a ship. When his father on his luxury yacht encounters him at sea, the Son's behaviour inspires his sister, and they both turn against their father, a rejection intensified when the Billionaire shows no charity after a factory disaster. The Billionaire, believing that his dream of creating a capitalist bulwark against chaos has been shattered by his children's attitude, discovers that his Secretary had a happy prosperous childhood. He kills his Secretary and assumes his identity by transferring the coral to his own watch chain. Arrested for murder, the Billionaire eventually eagerly embraces the Secretary's identity. He is visited by a Socialist, who had appeared earlier but, thanks to the Billionaire's exhortations, is now a successful capitalist. The Son congratulates the presumed Secretary for ridding the world of a tyrant, and the priest fails to impress the Billionaire with religion. Clutching his coral, the Billionaire goes resolutely to his execution. (2) Gas I. Many years have passed, and the Billionaire's Son now manages a gas factory, in which the workers all share in the profits. The Engineer reports that despite having an infallible formula, the gas will explode. The factory is devastated, and the Billionaire's Son determines that, rather than rebuild the factory, he will spare his workers from the drudgery of their repetitive tasks and free them from their machines. He proposes to divide the factory plot into smallholdings, so that the workers can live from the land. He tries to win his son-in-law to his cause, but this young soldier, having made debts from gambling, cannot free himself from the military code of honour and shoots himself. World capitalists, Men in Black, gather and demand the restitution of gas manufacture. At a mass meeting of the workers the Billionaire's Son pleads for the workers to abandon the factory and to live the simple life of a smallholder. However, they are won over by the arguments of the Engineer, who sneers at this rustic idyll and urges them to rebuild the factory. The workers storm back to the factory entrance, but their way is barred by the military, whom the Billionaire's Son has summoned. A Commissioner arrives and insists that the factory be reopened, since gas is needed for an impending war. The gates are opened, the workers pour in, and the Billionaire's Son finds himself alone with his vision of the New Man. His widowed daughter declares that she will give birth to him. (3) Gas II. The Billionaire's great-grandson is now a mere Billionaire Worker in the factory. The war is in full swing, and the Figures in Blue find that they are threatened with defeat, since the gas supply is failing. The Billionaire Worker explains that the workers no longer wish to produce gas, at last fulfilling his grandfather's dream of freedom from the machine. When the Figures in Yellow invade, the Chief Engineer urges the Blues to use poison gas to defeat the enemy. Despite the opposition of the Billionaire Worker, the gas is released, leading to universal annihilation.


Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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