Kasperl in der Türkei, ein grausames Lustspiel [Kasperl in Turkey, a Cruel Comedy] is an early puppet theatre production by Franz Pocci, since it was written before the writer met the puppeteer Josef Leonhard Schmid: Published in 1854 in the almanac Was Du willst and following the series entitled "Ein neues Schattenspiel" [New Shadow Theatre], it is Pocci's first dramatic text featuring the character Kasperl. It is not known whether this short play was really intended to be performed. In 1859 Pocci wrote an expanded version of the play for Schmid's theatre.
The play is part of a long tradition of satire against the Ottomans, which was motivated in the South German area by the numerous wars between Austria and Turkey (until the end of the 18th century). Pocci's caricature of the Oriental despot in the character of Sultan Schurimuri is very similar to that of his fellow cartoonist Carl Reinhardt in the puppet play Kasperl als Rekrut in der Türkei, which was written around the same time. The Muslim world is treated with disdain, for example, when Kasperl praises the wine cellar of the Sultan Mohametan. Pocci's great source of comedy is the character’s often very meaningful names: the slave characters, in particular, are given a name that corresponds to their function. Kislar Fagottschi is a natural music steward, since Fagott is the German word for bassoon; as for Pfeifistophiri, his name simply means 'pipe-filler' - and that is indeed his job in the play. The Moorish woman Mimikatzi is named after a cat, in a hypocoristic form that contributes to the discreet sexualisation of this unique female character: the allusion to the seraglio cannot be missed in the representation of the Ottoman world.
The deposed despot
Kasperl is arrested after breaking into the gardens of the cruel Sultan Schurimuri. Schurimuri wants to have him executed for spying, but Kasperl poses as an important guest and ends up being royally received in the sultan's kitchen. Drunk, he admits that he is not a scholar or a traveller, but simply Kasperl. Schurimuri wants to have him executed again, but Kasperl beats and kills him. He then takes his place and especially the turban of the Sultan, which he promises will be of great use for him when he returns to Germany.
Publications and translations
Franz Pocci: "Casperl in der Türkei", Was Du willst, [s.l.], 1854