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Die beiden Nachtwandler

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Die beiden Nachtwandler
oder Das Notwendige und das Überflüssige

The Two Sleepwalkers
or The Essential and the Excessive

Farce with songs in two acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiered in Vienna 6th May 1836

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Lord Wathfield
Malvina, his daughter
Lord Howart, her bridegroom
Sebastian Faden, a poor rope maker
Fabian Strick, his journeyman
Frau Schnittling
Babette, her daughter, Faden’s beloved
Pumpf, a haberdasher
Hannerl, his sister, a washerwoman, and Strick’s beloved
Herr von Brauchenfeld, a gentleman who has fallen on hard times
Emilie, his daughters
Theres, their chambermaid
Amtmann Geyer
Krall, Schnell, Puff, Kniff, Fint, crooks
an Innkeeper
Franz, Jakob, Michel, Joseph, waiters
Jackson, Lord Howart’s huntsman
John, Lord Howart’s servant
Rasch, Castle inspector
Georg, servants
Servants, guests, townspeople, watchmen and others.

The action takes place in a small market town and in the adjoining castle.
Act 1 scene 1-12: at an Inn
Act 1 scene 13–21: in a small market town
Act 1 scene 22–34: in a park

Act 2 scene 01–09: a room
Act 2 scene 10–20: Large room in the castle
Act 2 scene 21–28: in a small market town

Act 1. Howart is the new lord of the manor, and before taking up official residence, he decides to pay and anonymous visit to his new home, to have a look at his property and the people living there. Krall, Schnell, Puff, Fint und Kniff have heard about this, and have devised a plan to rob Howart in the inn. Howart has barely dropped off to sleep, when they climb in at his window, waking him. Before he can call for help, Puff threatens him with a knife. However nobody is expecting Faden, who is sleepwalking, to appear at the window, which shocks Schnell so much he lets out a loud scream. The crooks quickly escape, but not long after the innkeeper reports that they have been captured. To Howart’s delight, his beloved Malvina arrives, accompanied by her father, Lord Wathfield. Howart tells them of the danger from which the sleepwalker rescued him, and how he would like to make his rescuer happy, as a sign of his gratitude. Wathfield suggests that although he can reward him, that all of his wealth could not ensure happiness. Convinced he will win, Howart bets Lord Wathfield that he can make the sleepwalker completely happy, claiming he will not marry Malvina until he has achieved this [Song: Strick].
That night, after going into Howart’s room, Faden also climbs, still asleep, into Pumpf’s sister Hannerl’s room, where Pumpf, outraged, finds him. Faden wakes and cannot explain what has happened, and although Hannerl protests her innocence, neither Pumpf, Babette nor Strick believe them. This destroys several relationships – between Hannerl and Strick and between Babette and Faden. Strick even decides that he can no longer work for Faden. Faden is in despair when Howart and Wathfield arrive. Wathfield pretends that he is the servant of a supernatural being that wants to make Faden happy. All Faden needs to do is to say what he wants. Joyfully, Faden claims he will only require that which is absolutely necessary to make him the ‘happiest person alive’. First of all wishes for comfortable apartments and a reasonable daily allowance. Wathfield promises to grant him his wishes, not without warning him that should he wish for anything superfluous, he will also lose that which is essential. Howart is already certain of his victory, but Wathfield warns him not to be too precipitate in his joy. [Song: Hannerl]. Lord von Brauchengeld (the name in German means – ‘need money’, or ‘use up money’) is hoping to find two bridegrooms for his daughters Emilie and Mathilde among the new lord’s followers. To be a candidate for his daughters’ hand in marriage, the chosen candidate must be able to pay off Lord Brauchengeld’s debts, for which reason, his daughters have almost given up hope of ever marrying. Geyer would like to marry Emilie, but considers the price demanded by Brauchengeld too high. Faden has moved into a house on Howart’s land, and on seeing Emilie, immediately falls in love with her. She and her father assume he is a beggar, and when Faden proudly declares his daily income, Brauchengeld, without further ado, demands 10 000 Gulden for the hand of his daughter. Laughing, the family leave the nonplussed Faden standing. Meanwhile, Strick has decided to make things up with Faden, because he sees it as his ‘holy duty’ not to leave his master ‘even when things are going well’. When he hears about Faden’s ‘guardian angel’ and the promise of happiness, he advises him to ask for the 10 000 Gulden, since the marriage is essential to his happiness – and indeed, Faden receives the required sum. Faden doesn’t hesitate in presenting the flabbergasted Brauchengeld with the money – and Emilie is likewise content with her unexpected bridegroom. Geyer has meanwhile regretted his decision not to marry Emilie, and is furious to see who has won her instead. He suspects that Faden stole the money – Faden however assures Brauchengeld that he is wealthy, and only worked as a rope maker to pass the time and ‘for love of art’. Pumpf has also heard about Faden’s good fortune, and is willing to forgive him, but Hannerl meanwhile overhears Geyer talking to a watchman about his suspicions and is convinced they are talking about Strick, whom she is keen to warn of the danger. Strick however is sure that it is in fact Faden to whom she wants to impart this information, and turns her away. In order that Faden might avoid being seized by the officials, Wathfield gives him a letter from Howart, addressed to Geyer. The letter warns Geyer that he will be sacked if he doesn’t treat Faden with the utmost respect. Geyer bows to the will of his master.


Act 2. [Chorus] Faden wishes for one thing after another, without ever actually ever wishing for anything excessive. The sudden wealth of her bridegroom unnerves Emilie, but Brauchengeld insists on the wedding. Nevertheless Emilie makes it clear that she is extremely displeased at having to live in a small house rather than a palace. Strick boasts to Theres, that he and Faden have access to an “inexhaustible source of wealth”, which can fulfil all wishes. Hearing of this, Emilie insists to Faden that he should buy the manor house. Shocked, Faden points out how small his income is, but Emilie threatens to pine away and die from worry otherwise. Eventually Faden gives in, although he is afraid of how the ‘spirits’ will react. At first, Howart wants to refuse this wish, but Wathfield reminds him of his word. [Song: Strick]. Emilie and Faden take over the manor house. Howart is beginning to feel that his bet comes at too high a price, but Wathfield reminds him he won’t be marrying Malvina until Faden demands the superfluous. Faden arranges a large party for that evening. Pumpf receives 500 Gulden from Faden, and tries to make it up with Strick. Hannerl continues to pretest her innocence, but although Pumpf reveals her to have an inheritance of several thousand Gulden, Strick isn’t interested. [Song: Hannerl, Theres, Strick. Chorus of the guests]. During the meal, Faden takes a violent dislike to Wathfield’s hairstyle, and demands he changes it – finally a wish for the superfluous. Howart had already prepared his servants for this eventuality, and they appear like furies from all sides, stripping Faden and Strick of their fine clothes and chasing them out of the house. [Chorus]. Having lost their lovers, Babette and Hannerl are as unhappy as ever, and extremely surprised to see Faden and Strick wandering the streets in their old suits again. Apart from the loss of his riches, it particularly upsets Faden that Emilie won’t marry him now that he is poor again. He and Strick have just 30 Gulden between them, and Faden decides to take his life the following day, saying Brauchengeld can keep the money Faden acquired for him, meaning Emilie and Geyer are now free to marry. Malvina forgives Howart for staking her future happiness on so foolish a game. Geyer is about to arrest Wathfield thinking he is Faden, when Faden, sleepwalking, climbs through the window and reveals how he came to be in Hannerl’s bedroom. Overjoyed, Babette takes her beloved in her arms. Strick also appears, sleepwalking, and after some confusion awakes, realising that he did Hannerl wrong by not believing her protestations of innocence. Howart and Wachfield reveal their true identities, and give Faden the small house he lost through greed for the manor. [Final song: Strick 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