Publisher: Spartacus Educational
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21684
The life of the German socialist artist Kathe Kollwitz.
On 28th February, 1893, Kathe Kollwitz attended a performance of The Weavers, a new play by Gerhart Hauptmann. The play dealt with a real historical event. In June 1844 disturbances and riots occurred in the Prussian province of Silesia during an economic recession. A large number of weavers attacked warehouses and destroyed the new machinery that was being used in the industry. The Prussian Army arrived on the scene and in an attempt to restore order fired into the crowd, killing 11 people and wounding many others. The leaders of the weavers were arrested, flogged, and imprisoned. Karl Marx wrote about this event, claiming that the uprising marked the birth of a German workers' movement.
The theatre critic, Barrett H. Clark, has argued in The Continental Drama of Today (1914): "Hauptmann may be said to have created a new form of drama in The Weavers, and that form is what may be designated as the tableau series form, with no hero but a community. As the play is not a close-knit entity, the first act is casual, and might open at almost any point; and since it starts with a picture, or part of a picture, there is hardly anything to be known of the past. The result is that no exposition is needed. The audience sees a state of affairs, it does not lend its attention and interest to a story or the beginning of a plot or intrigue. This first act merely establishes the relation between the weavers and the manufacturers. There is no direct hint given in the first act as to what is to come in the second; the first is a play in itself, a situation which does not necessarily have to be developed. It does, however, prepare for the revolt, by showing the discontent among the downtrodden people, and it also enlists the sympathy of the audience."