Kaspar stirbt nicht!
Puppenkomödie aus dem alten Leipzig
Tilla Schmidt-Ziegler's repertoire was known to contemporaries for introducing philosophical aspects into a puppet theatre that was mostly aimed at young audiences. In this posthumously published play, the author dramatises the debates surrounding the theatre reform promoted by the playwright and critic Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700-1766) from the 1730s. Gottsched had sought to outlaw buffoonish roles on the German national stage. The theatre director Caroline Neuber (also known as die Neuberin), who was close to Gottsched, symbolically banned the Hanswurst character from one of her performances in 1737. Gottsched's dramaturgy was surpassed by the author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781), a major figure of the German Enlightenment. He also appears in Tilla Schmidt-Ziegler's play, in the role of a student who wants to make his theatrical debut with a comedy entitled Der junge Gelehrte [The Young Scholar] (finally premiered in 1747).
Humour prevails over harshness and severity
In Bavaria, Kaspar learns that Professor Johann Christoph Gottsched is conspiring against him. He goes to Leipzig to work as a servant, under a false name, in the house of Gottsched and his friend, the actress and theatre director Caroline Neuber. During a performance, Caroline Neuber symbolically banishes Kaspar’s character from the stage and dismisses the actor who successfully played him, Silvio. But Gottsched's ward, Lucinde, is in love with the actor: the two young people defy Gottsched's dismissal and marry in secret. In search of a new actor to play the comic role in a play by the student Gotthold Ephraim, Caroline Neuber offers the position to Kaspar, who declines and then reveals his true identity. The actress breaks up with Gottsched and hires Silvio again, as well as Lucinde. Kaspar is arrested by the Bavarian policeman Stadelmann, who has set out after him, but is finally released by Gotthold Ephraim and is praised by the entire audience.
Publications and translations
Tilla Schmidt-Ziegler: Kaspar stirbt nicht! Worms, Ernst Wunderlich, 1957