Gas I and Gas II


Gas I and Gas II
   by Georg Kaiser.
   Gas I, which premiered in 1918, and Gas II (1920) were the final installments of Kaiser's "Gas Trilogy," inaugurated by Die Koralle (The Coral). In Gas I, the Billionaire's Son carries on the work of his deceased father, but he does so in the hope of bettering mankind. The enormous gas factory he oversees is run on a profit-sharing basis, with workers enjoying unprecedented benefits and humane treatment. For some inexplicable reason, however, the gas factory explodes. The Billionaire's Son takes the explosion as a signal of fate and refuses to rebuild the factory, but the workers revolt and demand the factory's reconstruction. When the Billionaire's Son refuses to comply with their demands, the state dispatches military forces to oversee reconstruction, and the Billionaire's Son shoots himself. His sister (the Daughter) appears and promises to rebuild the gasworks.
   Gas IIbegins with the factory rebuilt, but the workers function ro-botically in preparation for war. The central figure in this last installment of the trilogy is the Billionaire Worker, who pleads for peace and brotherhood among all mankind, yet the workers continue as the automatons they have become in predetermined movements to make ready for the Day of Judgment that will destroy everything.
   The workers launch a missile filled with poison gas as the play ends in mass self-extermination.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

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