Expressionism One (Ausdruck Eins)

A darkened stage with faint light from far above. The theatre is dark. A figure enters from stage right, walking briskly and properly. It is the narrator. He stops with precision, clicks his heels and bows low before the audience at center stage.

Narrator: (Dressed in black tie and tails)

My dearest audience. I wish to welcome you all to the new German Expressionist dialectical, existential, confrontational, deontological theater of nihilist empiricism.

In the dialectical, existential, confrontational, deontological Expressionist world-view, there are always two opposing forces.

Other intervening forces may attempt to mediate between the two forces that are in opposition, but this will simply illustrate for the observer with clarity, the two diametrically incompatible, oppositional viewpoints.

In this play, the author would like to express that only the dialectical, existential, confrontational, deontological world-view can be the bridge between the man and the higher man.

I thank the audience for attending this play.

(Narrator bows low and exits stage left. Stage fades to black)

ACT I SCENE I: 12 December, 1913, Fagus Factory, Alfeld an der Leine, State of Hanover, Imperial Prussia

The clip-clop of horses, the rattle of a tram and industrial whistles are heard faintly.

The scene opens with a view of the city, blackened by industrial soot, in the midst of a snowstorm during the late afternoon. We see a cutaway of No. 7 tram ‘ Liebstraumplatz’. We see a distinguished bespectacled rider casually reading a newspaper. He is dressed in the dark grey pea coat of an industrial physician. He checks his pocket-watch. At the station, in front of the Fagus factory, he descends from the tram and he walks to the gate. He is held in the security unit by the Guard.

Guard One: Halt! your papers please!

Schwenck: Yes. Please take these documents and perform your duty.

(Hands papers to the guard with his right hand and stands with his left hand rigidly in the small of his back)

Guard One: You must wait here, Herr Doctor. They have closed the gate because of an unfortunate industrial accident.

Schwenck: That is not good news. However, I would like to ensure that my papers are in order. My shift begins in thirty minutes.

Guard One: Herr Doctor, you know as well as I, the law specifies that I cannot possibly allow you to enter the factory more than ten minutes before your work shift starts. In any case, the gates have been ordered closed and it is impossible to allow you to enter until after your work shift starts.

Schwenck: Is Herr Kroner treating the patients?

Guard One: (looks stiffly past and above the Doctor, standing at attention and deferentially avoiding eye-contact) Herr Kroner did not report for his shift. He was struck by a donkey cart, and he’s in hospital.

Schwenck: Was anyone contacted to take his work shift?

Guard One: I am not aware if this was the case. That’s all I know at this moment.

Schwenck: Could you please inform my Foreman that my services are available?

Guard One clicks his heels, picks up a phone and shakes the handle a few times.

Guard One: Yes, this is the Guard at Level One Gate, the Doctor Captain Schwenck is here.

Guard Two: (at the edge of stage left with a phone receiver against his ear) The physician for the following work shift?

Guard One: Yes.

Guard Two: (Reading from a booklet) No one can be permitted to enter. Wartime Imperial Decree c.3 No. XVIII – A is clear that in the case of a Type III workplace accident no one can enter or leave the factory until the matter has been the subject of a proper investigation by the on-site foreman.

Guard One: May he be permitted to enter when his shift starts?

Guard Two: The law is clear. I shall let you know if the situation changes.

Guard One: What happened?

Guard Two: A man was burned with methyl ethyl ketone. It was invisible. He was completely engulfed. I advise you to hold the Doctor.

Guard One hangs up the phone on the receiver.

Guard One: Good Doctor, a man was burned with methyl ethyl ketone. The investigation is not complete. I shall let you know when the time comes.

Schwenck: Yes!

(Clicks his heels and resumes the position of attention)

The doctor is stiffly and emotionlessly awaiting the time to enter the Level One Gate. He checks his Pocket-watch. It is now 1700 and the telephone rings. The Level One Gate opens. Guard One signals to the doctor, who strides inside, clutching his medical bag. The doctor crouches next to the injured man and begins to try to save him. After thirty minutes of treatment, the Doctor removes his stethoscope. It is hopeless and the man dies.

Schwenck: He’s dead. He received severe burns over most of his body. He probably had burn injuries to his lungs. He could not have been saved in any case. It is unfortunate.

Foreman: (To Schwenck) Where were you, Herr Doctor? You arrived three minutes after the beginning of a work shift.

Schwenck: I was not permitted by law to enter until I received word that they had ended the investigation.

Foreman: The investigation finished exactly at 1701 Hours.

Schwenck: But I could not have been permitted to come in until you had finished the investigation.

Foreman: This is true, you would have not had permission to enter until the investigation had been completed, but there was no doctor to work the shift and you were here three minutes after the beginning of a work shift.

Schwenck: That is correct, but it was the result of strict orders that prohibited my entry. I came to the gate precisely at 0430 hours and I requested early entry.

Foreman: That too, entering the gates early, would have been a breach of the explicit law. We were duly informed of your arrival, but we could not allow you to enter.

Schwenck: May I assume that I am going to be detained?

Foreman: I have already prepared the papers. Cigaretu? (He lights the Cigaretu, then gives the doctor a Czech cigarette).

Schwenck: Thank you for this excellent Cigaretu!

The foreman clicks his heels and bows low.

A Policeman enters.

Policeman: Doctor, will you please come with me.

The doctor and the policeman walk towards the audience. The foreman and the various workers are arrayed motionless in a semi-circle around the dead man to the rear of the doctor and the policeman. They turn towards the audience in mute silence as the doctor is escorted from the factory.

ACT I SCENE II: 15 December, 1913: Prussian Empire Criminal Court, Alfeld an der Leine, State of Hanover

The judge sits high on his bench, twenty feet above the dock. The dock is centrally located. The courtroom is in new grand Art Deco style with abstract long eagle forms on the wall. The doctor is dressed in striped prison garb with a small grey prison cap. His head is bowed, and he does not dare to look at the Imperial judges.

Bailiff: (Standing upright at attention) Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, all ye please rise, the Court of the Honorable His Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm the Second, Elector of Brandenburg and King of Prussia is now in session, raise your right hand and swear in the name of the risen Christ and the beloved Imperial Majesty Emperor Wilhelm, that in all testimony you shall give in this proceeding now being heard, you shall speak with honesty and truth or you will be struck dead by an angry God!

Judge: (to Solicitor) is the defendant of the ancient and savage Hebrew race?

Solicitor: (bowing low with a broad sweep of his hand) He is of the savage Israelite tribe your honor, even though his family has lived for 500 years in Alfeld, since the year 1410 from of the birth of our holy risen Christ.

Judge: (pointing to bailiffs) Then he must swear an oath of the Jewish tribe, so he does not resort to vile fraud to profane the Emperor!

Bailiff: (clicking his heels and facing the accused) Do you good Herr Doctor Captain Schwenck swear by your scriptures of ancient Israel that you will be struck dead by your angry Hebrew God, if you do not swear to speak the truth in these proceedings?

Schwenck: (raising his right hand) I shall tell the truth, and I swear, I do the same in the name of the beloved and revered Kaiser Wilhelm, blessed descendant of Frederick the Great, the protector of my wild and savage race, so I will not be struck dead, by my most high.

Judge: (pointing to bailiff) Read the charges.

Bailiff: (holding a document which he peruses through a monocle) War Imperial c.3 Decree No. XVIII: ‘In the case of a Type III workplace accident no worker may enter or leave a munitions factory until the matter of the accident has been the subject of a full investigation by the foreman.’

Judge: The situation is unfortunately clear. What we have is a good doctor and Imperial Army Officer who attempts to do his proper duty in an industrial war production factory. However, the law is a brooding omnipresence in the sky. Once a law has been approved by the seal of the Emperor, it is impenetrable, like granite. It is only to obey. Once the law is broken, an immutable chain of events is set into place which is like an act of nature or a machine. It must follow to its inevitable and sequential conclusion. We need to ensure the truth of what happened, examining the events of each minute and discover each fact taken from these procedures thoroughly and in minute detail. The prosecutor must prove that every event, whether intentionally done or not, meets the exact requirements of the law.

Solicitor: Yes, Your Honor!

Imperial Crown Solicitor: Your Honor! I will obey my sworn duty as instructed.

Judge: (To Schwenck) You are also an officer in the imperial army?

Schwenck: (Clicking heels and bowing low) If it may please the court, I am sir, a Captain in the light field Battalion Grubenhagen. I am the battalion Surgeon. I served in action in Southwest Africa during the Hehero and Nama actions under Herr General Lothar. I was a young medic at that time.

Judge: You have served your country well, and your family has long presence in Hanover, so I must ask that you take your oath with due honor to the Imperial State.

Schwenck: (Raising right hand) I shall to each fact, with the precision of a Prussian officer, testify faithfully to all facts, taking my oath of Hippocrates into due consideration.

Bailiff: All rise!

The judge exits his high bench. Every lawyer and witness exits in a file towards center stage and down the aisle with perfect precision.

The stage darkens and a spotlight slowly illuminates the narrator.

Narrator: So my dear audience, we see the dilemma of the imperialist, oligarchical state. Each Party is sworn to obey the law with rigid adherence to every word, as otherwise the integrity of the nation is weakened, and thus the word of the Emperor is besmirched, which being impossible, it is out of the question to vary from the law.

(Narrator bows low and exits stage right)

ACT I SCENE III: 18 December 1913, Fagus Factory, Alfeld an der Leine, Factory Floor

A machine malfunctions and a man’s hand is caught. He is slowly drawn in to the giant machinery. He screams horribly, but the others are unable to help him. When the machine stops, the man is extracted and the medic tries to help him.

Medic: This is madness. I need Schwenck. Doctor Schwenck always knew what to do. This is a travesty.

Worker 1: I agree, why must he be put on trial? He wanted to help Luttwalk, but they would not let him in because of some stupid rule.

Worker 2: This is true! What sort of idiocy prevent men from using common sense? The good Doctor should have been admitted to the factory. Now he is gone and another man will probably die because of the rules. Rules created by some Imperial bureaucrat.

Worker 3: We have rights! This man has a family! Is that not more important than some rule?

Medic: I can’t save him. He is dying. He needs a surgeon.

Foreman: Back to work! Don’t make trouble! You know the rules!

More workers gather. The man dies with a gasp in the medic’s arms. The dead man is lain down and framed by the angry workers. More workers gather.

Foreman: There will be trouble! back to work!

Foreman blows a whistle. More workers come running and the guards are unable to break through.

The foreman disappears beneath the crowd of workers. The workers begin shutting down equipment and climbing on machinery.

Worker 1: No more boots for the army until we get our Doctor back! Close down the factory! Seize the guns from the guards!

There is a scene of chaos and shouting. Rifles are seen and the guards are marched out stage right.

Worker 2: (Facing the audience at center stage.) We are human beings! He have essential rights! We are not to be slaughtered for boots! We don’t care about rules! We will hold the factory until the Doctor is released!

The Narrator Appears again.

Narrator: What you see, my dear audience requires no further explanation on my part. It has become clear to the mass of the workers that the Imperialist World-view has lead to an unjust result, the death of a fellow worker. The only question is how will the state respond to the worker revolt? Will it appease the workers and thus continue the oligarchs war preparation? Or will it instead, rather confront the workers and risk industrial production?

Curtain lowers.

ACT II SCENE I: 19 December 1913, Office of the Inspector General for War Production, Alfeld an der Leine

Captain von Unterschied (At rigid attention outside the general’s door): My Generale, I have an important dispatch!

General von Kriegsfeld: Enter!

von Unterschied clicks his heels dramatically, marches to the General’s desk and renders the imperial hand-salute.

Captain von Unterschied: Sir!

The general, holding his monocle between two fingers, reads the dispatch. He looks up at Unterschied.

General von Kriegsfeld: Captain. Close the door, come in and have a seat. This is a powder keg. The proceeding against the good doctor is of course according to Imperial Policy, but there are risks. This could set off worker revolts throughout the Prussian State. The Jew could view this as another Dreyfuss and risk Imperial monetary policy. You are a friend of the doctor are you not?

Captain von Unterschied: Yes my Generale, we served together in Africa. He is a good German and an honorable subject of Hanover, despite his barbaric Jewishness. He always obeys the Kaiser without question and with exact precision.

General von Kriegsfeld: You realize what must be done. The law may need it pound of flesh, but the workers and the eternal Jew will need theirs as well. I will contact Berlin, and intervention will come at the precise moment and all will be assuaged.

Captain von Unterschied: My Generale, what about the factory owner?

General von Kriegsfeld: The devil with the factory owner. All in due time. Dismissed!

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