“If I could, Master, I would lay the most beautiful rose garden of Allah at your feet.” An essay by Abu Bakr Rieger
(EMU) –– On 3 March 1892, Berlin’s police headquarters issued a ban on the performance of a theatre piece. A social drama in five acts, it described the situation of the weavers in Silesia and their uprising in 1844. The authorities were infuriated by a young author experimenting with the revolutionisation of German theatre. His name was Gerhart Hauptmann. His new style was seen as naturalism; he showed not only a hero, but a starkly portrayed reality of a social class who were given a voice of their own.
Astounded audiences, most of whom were members of the upper classes, considered the language, the situations and the realistic social strata revolutionary. Hauptmann himself was less interested in ideological subversion than in reminding people of the social responsibilities of state, business and society. The drama laid the foundations for the poet’s fame; ultimately he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1912. But it also had a more timeless effect. Today it could well be performed in Bangladesh, a place where the lower classes now produce fabrics for global markets.