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- Moral - 1/21 -


Ludwig Thoma


Dr. Ludwig Thoma, perhaps better known to his Bavarian countrymen as Peter Schlemiehl, was born in Oberammergau on January 21, 1867. After graduating from a gymnasium in Munich, he studied at the School of Forestry at Aschauffenburg. He did not finish his course there, but entered the University at Munich and received his degree as Doctor Juris in 1893.

A year later Dr. Thoma began to practice law; but he abandoned that pursuit in 1899 to follow a career for which his inclinations and talents so happily fitted him.

He had been writing humorous verses for Simplicissimus for several years under the pen name of Pete Schlemiehl, with such success that the paper almost became identified by that name. These poems were later published in book form under the title--Grobheiten.

His prose writings in Bavarian dialect as well as his boyhood experiences entitled, Lausbubengeschichten, won a large and warm audience. In 1899 he became the editor of Simplicissimus. From then on his renown grew. The foremost critics of German letters began to take notice of this "Bavarian Aristophanes" and to compare him to Heine and the classics.

When Moral and Lottchen's Birthday appeared, while the reviewers shook their heads and stated that Dr. Thoma was shocking (so in original) they concluded that their author was "casting a long shadow." To-day Dr. Thoma is a recognized figure in Germany. Prof. Robert F. Arnold in "Das Moderne Drama" (Strassburg, 1908) ranks him next to Hauptmann. His writings are numerous. A vein, satirical and humorous, with a conception of the pathetic, makes him more than an equal to Mark Twain. In addition he is possessed of a message, which he delivers in the Moral.

First produced in 1908 the play soon became a part and parcel of the repertoire of the leading theatres in Germany. It was put on for the first time in New York, in German, at the Irving Place Theatre in the spring of 1914, through the efforts of the late Heinrich Matthias and the writer. Mr. Matthias then played the part of Beermann. Mr. Christians, the director, repeated the performance a number of times that season, each performance meeting with a warm response.

The late Percival Pollard was the first American critic to emphasize the importance of Dr. Thoma's work in his excellent resume of contemporary German literature: Masks and Minstrels of Modern Germany. He pointed out "that no country where hypocrisy or puritanism prevail as factors in the social and municipal conduct should be spared the corrective acid of this play."

H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan for many years have sung praises of the Moral in the Smart Set. But its production on the English speaking stage still remains an event eagerly to be awaited. Briefly, the play is a polemic against the "men higher up," churchmen, reformers, and social hypocrites.

The translation follows the text implicitly. Four different versions were made all varying in a degree from the original, and although Dr. Thoma wrote to the writer "bin auch damit einverstanden dass Sie in der Ubersetzung meines Schauspieles 'Moral' etwaige Aenderungen oder Adaptiereungen, die durch die englisch-amerikanischen Verhaltnisse und den Geschmack des amerikanischen Theatrepublikums geboten erscheinen, in entsprechender Weise vornehmen ..." it was deemed best for purposes of publication to try to preserve the original atmosphere without an attempt to even transpose such phrases as Gnadige Frau, or Herr Kommerzienrat.


New York, October, 1916.


FRITZ BEERMANN, a wealthy landowner and banker.

LENA BEERMANN, his wife.

EFFIE BEERMANN, their daughter.

KOMMERZIENRAT ADOLPH BOLLAND, capitalist and manufacturer

CLARA BOLLAND, his wife.

DR. HAUSER, an ex-judge.

FRAU LUND, an old lady.



PRIVATDOZENT DR. WASNER, a gymnasium professor.

FREIHERR VON SIMBACH, the Police Commissioner of the Duchy.

ASSESSOR OSCAR STROEBEL, a police official.

MADAME NINON DE HAUTEVILLE, a lady of leisure.

FREIHERR GENERAL BOTHO VON SCHMETTAU, also known as Zurnberg, A Gentleman-in-waiting and Adjutant to His Highness, the Duke.

JOSEPH REISACHER, a clerk of the Police Department.

BETTY, a maid at Beersmann's.

Two man-servants and a policeman.


The esteemed, sensitive public will assume that the action takes place in Emilsburg, the capital of the Duchy of Gerlestein. The first and third acts occur in the house of Herr Fritz Beermann; the second act, in the Police Headquarters. It all happens between Sunday afternoon and Monday evening.

To be free from blame, the producers will please note that:

BEERMANN is in the fifties; jovial; lively; with gray side- whiskers and chin carefully shaved.

FRAU BEERMANN is in the late forties, though youthful looking for her age.

FRAU LUND. sixty-eight; a woman of impressive appearance; her manner is energetic; her mass of white hair is carefully coiffured.

FRAU BOLLAND. about forty-five; stout; talkative.

DR. WASNER. a tall German professor with full blond beard; deep voiced; wears pince-nez with black tortoise shell rim and broad black cord.

HANS JACOB DOBLER. is a poet; he is dressed in a poor fitting cut- away coat; unkempt mustache and Van Dyke beard.

FRAULEIN PINNEBERG, a feminist, wears a loose fitting gown.

DR. HAUSER. fifty; smooth shaven; wears gold rimmed spectacles,

VON SCHMETTAU, sixty; remains stately looking with effort; military bearing.

MADAME DE HAUTEVILLE--indefinitely twenty; her ultra-fashionable Parisian gowns invite the cloak and suit patrons.




(Card room in Beermann's house. In the background a swinging door opens into the dining room. To the right a smaller door leads to the music room. On the left side another door opens into the entrance hall. To left upstage in a corner a small card table with chairs. To right upstage a large sofa and comfortable chairs. Parallel to background down stage, tea table with coffee service thereon; near it to right, smaller table, on it a humidor.

A butler is engaged at the tea table, another man servant is holding swinging door open. [Business of getting up from table.] Many voices and rattle of chairs are heard from dining room. Through swinging doors enters Bolland and Frau Beermann, Beermann with Frau Bolland, Dr. Hauser with Effie, Dr. Wasner with Fraulein Koch-Pinneberg, Dobler alone.)

General greeting of "Mahlzeit."

Dr. Wasner is vigorously shaking hands--going to Frau Beermann

Moral - 1/21

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