From Morning to Midnight

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From Morning to Midnight is an expressionist play by written by German Georg Kaiser in 1912.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

The entire course of the play takes place over a single day. The plot begins with a young bank employee (referred to as 'Clerk') mistakenly believing that an alluring customer ('The Italian Woman') wants to elope with him. Acting on this belief, he steals 60,000 marks – worth £900,000 in 2013 prices, assuming that the marks referred to are those of 1912 Germany – from his bank, and absconds to visit the woman at her hotel.

Upon the Italian woman informing him that he was mistaken, he goes on the run, and makes several attempts to find a meaning to his life, by taking part in various experiences involving family life at his home, a visit to a brothel, and sponsoring cycling races. None of these provide the meaning that he is looking for, and eventually he attends a meeting of the Salvation Army. In an attempt to redeem himself after his earlier behaviour, he gives away the money he has stolen to the other people attending the meeting.

He is disgusted at the effect that this has on the members – their 'repentance' from earthly conncerns disappears in the face of easy money. The Clerk is left alone in the church except for 'The Salvation Army Girl', who, at various points through the play had tried, unsuccessfully, to sell him a copy of War Cry for 10 pfennigs. The Clerk observes that now he has no money, it is only the Girl who has stood by him.

At this point the audience discovers that the Salvation Army Girl had only remained in order to lead the police, who have been searching for him following his theft, to the Clerk so she can claim a reward for his capture. He runs from them, and attempts to escape, but dies during the chase.

Major Characters[edit]

None of the characters in the play are given names, which has been described as an attempt by the author to define them by a single characteristic.

  • Clerk
  • Italian Lady
  • Mother, at the Clerk's home
  • 2 Daughters, also at the Clerk's home
  • Harlequin, who appears in the brothel scene
  • Penitent Cyclist, who speaks during the Salvation Army meeting
  • Salvation Army Officer, who makes a speech at the meeting
  • Salvation Amy girl, who appears in a number of scenes.

Production history[edit]

Although written in 1912, From Morning to Midnight was not staged until 1917, due to censorship by German authorities about its portrayal of the Kaiser.

A recent production took place at the National Theatre in London. The cast included:

Adaptation[edit]

In 1920, a film version of the play, From Morn to Midnight was directed by Karlheinz Martin.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hemus, Ruth; Preece, Julian (2013). 'From Morning to Midnight' Programme. 
  2. ^ "From Morning to Midnight Cast & Creative". Retrieved 4 January 2014.