By Friedrich Schiller translated and adapted by Lynn Marie Macy
“Man is made great or little by his own will” – Schiller
Freidrich von Schiller (1759 – 1805) – The leading 18th century German poet, historian, essayist and dramatist was born in Marbach, Württemberg, in what is now southern Germany. Duke Karl of Württemberg forced him at a young age into a military academy where he studied law and medicine. He became an army surgeon while clandestinely writing poetry and plays. His first play The Robbers was staged in Manheim in 1782. Schiller left his military post in Stuttgart to see a performance and garnered the wrath of the Duke who had him jailed and forbade him to write. Schiller then fled Württemberg and under an assumed name pursued his career as a playwright in Manheim, authoringFiesko (1783), Intrigue and Love (1784), and Don Carlos. (1787). Schiller finally settled in Weimar. There he married Charlotte von Lengefeldt, was appointed history professor at the University of Jena and founded the Weimar Theatre with his mentor, friend and colleague Goethe. Among his best known dramas are: Wallenstein Trilogy (1798 – 99), Maria Stuart (1800), The Maid Of Orleans (1801), The Bride of Messina (1803), and William Tell (1804). He died of tuberculosis at the age of 46.
Kabale und Liebe – Intrigue and Love (1784) is subtitled Ein Bürgerliches Trauerspiel, that is – A Bourgeois (Middleclass) or Citizen’s Tragedy and is a milestone in the historical development of western drama. At the time of its composition the youthful Schiller not only offered a new and exciting genre of drama, eventually eclipsing traditional neo-classical tragedy, but also captured a political and social portrait of his time. Characters and events depicted in the play were based on recognizable personalities and happenings of Schiller’s age. Fueled by his religious beliefs and personal experience he sought to expose tyranny and injustice with a view towards social reform. He interpolated the relatively new concepts in Europe of equality, liberty, freedom from oppression, free will and basic human rights with his unique form of idealism, fervor and psychological manipulation.
Translated from the original German and adapted from obscure 18th century English texts – (including The Minister by M. G. Lewis (The Monk), I approached the creation of this script of Intrigue and Love for the Cocteau Rep from a primarily theatrical standpoint. My goal was to achieve heightened classical language in a script accessible to modern American audiences while keeping as true to the Schiller work as possible. The process has been enlightening and exhilarating.
“Revenge is barren of itself: it is the dreadful food it feeds on; its delight is murder, its end despair”. – Schiller
Cabal – Intrigue or conspiracy engaged in by a secret group or organization – the word came into everyday use in England during the reign of Charles II. – His ministers chosen in 1667 were Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley and Lauderdale. Some believe the word originated as an acronym of these mister’s initials. The Cabal, as they were known, disbanded in 1672. The word is no longer in common usage in English or German (Kabale).