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Der Schützling

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Der Schützling
The Guardian Angel

A Farce with songs in 4 Acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 9th April 1847

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Baron von Waldbrand
Pauline, his wife
Julie Billdorf, her childhood friend, a widow
Von Saalstein, president
Pappinger, a poor bookbinder
Gottlieb Herb, his nephew (originally played by Nestroy)
Martin, an apprentice carpenter
Nanny, a milliner's apprentice
Frau von Zollfeld
August von Zollfeld, her son
Herr von Walk,
Filner, petitioners
Treffler, a valet, Bart, a hunter, both in the Baron's service
Hebler, Last, Michael, Franz, Sebastian, employed in the Baron's ironworks
Schönfels, friends of Zollfeld
Fum, an office clerk
von Werling
Dr Schwarz
Schlager, a plumber
Staffelhuberin, a concierge
Guests, servants

The action of Acts 1 and 2 takes place in a large town, of Acts 3 and 4 on the estate of Baron Waldbrand (lit. Forestfire) a day's ride from the town.

Act 1. Gottlieb has given up a job as a teacher's apprentice because he feels he is "born to better things". Now he is living in poverty. His uncle Pappinger, an old bookbinder, also earns very little. - [Song, Gottlieb: "Some folk have it all, others just don't have any luck"] - Despite his poverty, Gottlieb manages to look and behave like a prosperous, well-respected young man, and hopes to make money with a manuscript he has written on ways of increasing factory production, and to secure a job as a factory manager. When the manuscript is turned down yet again and he begins to think that an acquaintance, Werling, has seen through his façade, he decides to shoot himself, but is distracted, first by an organ grinder, then by a noisy party in the flat next door. He decides to wait for a more suitable opportunity. - Meanwhile Pappinger is asking the Baron's wife Pauline for help in getting his nephew a post as manager of an industrial concern . Pappinger's wife was Pauline's wetnurse, and as Pauline comes from a poor background herself she is sympathetic to Pappinger's problems, but she is wary of putting the request directly to her husband. She decides instead to extend a "protective hand" over Gottlieb, that of a "secret guardian angel". Pappinger agrees that Gottlieb himself must know nothing of this protection. - In the dead of night Gottlieb has found the right place for his suicide, but just as he is about to pull the trigger Martin the carpenter snatches the gun from him and runs off in pursuit of a thief who has stolen a letter from the milliner Nanny. Martin gets the letter back and Gottlieb looks after Nanny. The letter, which turns out to be addressed to Gottlieb, appears to be from a friend of his father's explaining that he has only just heard of Gottlieb's difficulties and offering to help him. Martin and Nanny sneak away as Gottlieb stares at a 1,000 guilder note enclosed with the letter.

Act 2. Gottlieb still doesn't know who is behind all the good deeds from which he keeps benefiting, but suspects it must be a woman. His self-esteem is beginning to suffer as he is determined to succeed on his own merits. - Pauline decides to admit to her husband that she wants to help a young man who has ambitions to manage a factory, but she lies in telling him that she has been asked to do so by her friend Julie. She gives him Gottlieb's manuscript and reminds him that there is a vacant directorship at his ironworks in Finsterbach. Baron Waldbrand is amazed, as he intended Zollfeld for this post and knows that Zollfeld's mother wants her son to marry Julie. To Pauline's embarrassment Julie and Frau von Zollfeld now arrive to put the case for Zollfeld. Pauline manages to explain the situation to a bemused Julie who promises not to expose her deceit. - Zollfeld, who has a high opinion of himself, and other candidates are waiting outside the Baron's study and are astonished when Gottlieb is called in first for interview. Gottlieb gets the job and an angry Zollfeld decides to find out why he has been snubbed.

Acts 3. and 4. In Finsterbach Zollfeld has stirred up the workers against Gottlieb and distributed a newspaper accusing him of incompetence and hinting that he owes his promotion to feminine influence. Gottlieb is upset but continues to work hard to improve production. The rest of the plot is almost ludicrously complicated, with Gottlieb being suspected of an affair with Nanny, Gottlieb and Julie hiding in cupboards, Pauline writing a letter of confession and then trying to retrieve it before her husband can read it, and Gottlieb being caught in the act of retrieving it but pretending to sleepwalk. It turns out Julie has been a sweetheart of both Gottlieb and Werling prior to Zollfeld, and it is Gottlieb she marries in the end after his manuscript is recognised as a work of genius.


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