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Weder Lorbeerbaum noch Bettelstab

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Weder Lorbeerbaum noch Bettelstab
Neither the Laurel nor the Beggar’s Staff

Adapted from Lorbeerbaum und Bettelstab, a melodrama by Karl von Holtei
Farce parody in three acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 13 February 1835
[Based on Lorbeerbaum und Bettelstab, a melodrama by Karl von Holtei]

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Grundl, a rich soap manufacturer
Blasius, his son
Steinröthl, an industrialist
Agnes, his daughter and Blasius’ wife
Julie, their children
Chrisostomus Überall
A Theatre Director
Miss Putz
Miss Migrain
Charlotte, a maid in Steinröthl’s household
Leicht, a poet and later, a harpist.
Therese, his wife
Bookseller Druck
Cichori, a coffee manufacturer
Sir von Scharf
Sir von Billig
1st and 2nd guests
A furniture decorator

Gottfriedl, a coppersmith’s apprentice
Klopfer, a plumber
Mischer, a landlord in Brühl
A watchman
Ladies and gentlemen; coffeehouse customers; wedding guests, staff of both sexes at Steinröthl’s factory; several waiters and waitresses at Mischer’s Inn.

Act 1 The action takes place in Vienna
Act 2 The action takes place in Vienna, one year later
Act 3 The action takes place in Brühl, about twenty years later than in the second act.

Act 1. The play opens with Leicht (the name means ‘light’ or ‘inconsequent’) the poet reading his new play aloud to an assembled group, none of whom are enjoying it much; nevertheless he manages to persuade a theatre director to buy it. Leicht’s friend Blasius declares he doesn’t like the play at all, but his fiancée, Agnes, finds it extremely amusing. However it soon becomes clear that it is the writer rather than the play, which interests her. Blasius, believing he has nothing to fear, leaves them alone, whereupon Leicht makes advances to a willing Agnes. She is later shocked to discover that he already has a wife, and sends him packing. [Song: Therese]. On hearing that Leicht has lost the money paid for his plays at billiards, his wife Therese in despair, whilst Leicht remains blasé [Song: Leicht]. Blasius, Steinröthl and Agnes have meanwhile begun to worry that they dealt too harshly with Leicht, and to placate him, Überall (the name means ‘everywhere’) and Blasius pay him a visit, bringing with them the ingredients for a punch [Drinking song]. Later that evening, Agnes’ maid Charlotte arrives with a magician’s wand full of ducats for Leicht, along with a love letter from Agnes. [Song: Leicht]. Drunk on love, punch and money, Leicht falls into a stupor; and Blaisus, upset by Agnes’ gift, showers him with the ducats.


Act 2. [Chorus]. A year later, Leicht’s play - and how bad it is - is the subject of every café conversation. Unrecognised, Leicht listens in, but when Gottfriedl adds his voice to the general disapprobation, it is too much for him, and full of anger he throws the youth to the ground. The watchmen are called, and Grundl has to pay a ransom for Leicht’s release. [Song: watchmen]. Nevertheless Leicht is horrified when Grundl requests a poem from him to celebrate the marriage of Agnes and Blasius. He refuses, but then an idea comes to him and he sets to work – meanwhile neglecting to look after his young son, who has been wandering the neighbourhood since Leicht’s wife left him four months previously. [Duet: Grundl, Blasius]. Charlotte asks Agnes whether she couldn’t take the child in, and she persuades Blasius, against his will, to do so. [Song: Agnes]. Leicht his beside himself at the forthcoming marriage, and would like more than anything to give Blasius a beating with his magician’s wand. [Chorus]. The bridal pair are greeted with joy at the wedding and Überall reads the poem aloud. Realising the poem is about infidelity, Überall refuses to read any further and rips up the poem. Later, catching Agnes alone, Leicht remonstrates with her, saying she should have remained single. Leicht reads a bad review of his play in the paper and thinks Blasius has written it – in a fury he punches him and is thrown out by the servants. [Chorus: servants].

Act 3. [Chorus]. Twenty years later we find Überall, Blasius, Agnes and their two children taking a break in an inn after a walk. [Song: Leicht]. During a quiet moment, Überall reveals to Johann that he is adopted, assuming that his father Leicht has been dead for years. Johann is overjoyed, as it means he is free to marry Julie, whom he had thought was his sister. In fact, Leicht has been travelling the country as a harpist, and has been taken on by the innkeeper. [Ballad: Leicht]. None of the group recognise him, although it does cross Agnes’ mind when she sees the magician’s wand. Whilst in this company, Leicht accidentally comes across an article in the paper, which says that one of his plays has been performed for the 100th time. Julie begins to sing one of the songs from his plays, and when she can’t remember the words, Leicht finishes the song for her. At this they all recognise one another, and full of joy, they ask Leicht to stay and enjoy his success with them – but he nevertheless decides he would rather continue with his life on the road. Finale song: Leicht and chorus].


The Plays of Johann Nestroy. A directory of synopses prepared by Julian Forsyth & Zoe Svenson.
Funded by the Austrian Cultural Forum and Arts Council England. © Moving Theatre 2004