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.