Three Plays: Dark Riv­er, Arthur Arony­mus and His Ances­tors, and I and I

Else Lasker-Schüler; Jane Cur­tis, trans.; Inca Moli­na Rumold, ed.
  • Review
By – December 19, 2011

Else Lasker-Schüler (1869 – 1945) might have com­plet­ed a life of ease and renown in Ger­many as one of her native land’s great­est poets and noto­ri­ous eccentrics— had the Nazis not dri­ven her into exile for being a Jew, to spend her remain­ing years in Jerusalem in obscu­ri­ty and poverty.

Inter­est in her career in recent years has pro­duced new edi­tions of her poet­ry, and much pub­li­ca­tion explor­ing her life and art. Israeli play­wright Mot­ti Lern­er, in his play Exile in Jerusalem, dra­ma­tizes the piti­ful con­di­tion of her final days. Lasker-Schüler was also a play­wright in the avant-garde genre of Expres­sion­ism; and her writ­ing for the stage has been favor­ably com­pared with the ear­ly work of Bertolt Brecht. 

In her intro­duc­tion to her anthol­o­gy of the writer’s three plays, well trans­lat­ed by Jane Cur­tis, Inca Moli­na Rumold expli­cates Lasker-Schüler’s career as a drama­tist. The plays not only reflect this free think­ing bohemian’s involve­ment, advanced for her time, with issues of gen­der, eth­nic­i­ty, and sex­u­al­i­ty, but also her absorp­tion, lat­er in life, with Jew­ish tra­di­tion and mysticism. 

Nor­man J. Fed­der, Ph.D., is dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of the­atre at Kansas State Uni­ver­si­ty. He is cur­rent­ly on the fac­ul­ty of the Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Arts Pro­gram at Nova South­east­ern University.

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