Kaiser, Georg

(1878-1945)
   Playwright. Kaiser's life changed considerably when he married a wealthy woman in 1908. Prior to that time, he had held several jobs, including merchant seaman, but he began writing plays about the time he returned home with malaria from a sea voyage. After his fortunate marriage, he wrote in excess of 70 plays, many in the Expressionist vein. Between 1915 and 1933, more than 40 of them premiered; during that period, there was a premiere of at least one new Kaiser play every year but two (1916 and 1932). Kaiser was a fixture in the repertoires of nearly every German-speaking theater in the Weimar Republic, but his plays were performed elsewhere in Europe as well; even theaters in Tokyo, New York, and Sydney did them.
   Kaiser wrote his best plays between about 1915 and 1920. Among them were Die Bürger von Calais (The Burghers ofCalais); Von Morgens bis Mitternacht (From Morn to Midnight); Die Koralle (The Coral); Hölle, Weg, Erde (Hell, Road, Earth); and Gas I and Gas II. Most of them premiered outside Berlin; seven premieres took place in Frankfurt am Main, three in Düsseldorf, and two in Munich. His comedies, on the other hand, mostly reworked material from the early 1920s, usually premiered in Berlin. Maria Magdalena von Losch, later known as Marlene Dietrich, made her Berlin debut in a musical revue Kaiser wrote titled Es liegt in der Luft (It 's in the Air). His musical collaboration with Kurt Weill Der Silbersee (The Silver Lake) had its premiere in Erfurt, Leipzig, and Magdeburg simultaneously on 18 February 1933. The Magdeburg premiere in particular was remarkable, since protestors from several National Socialist organizations demonstrated noisily outside the theater against the production. Kaiser remained in Germany until 1938 and signed an oath of allegiance to the Third Reich, though Nazi officials banned his plays. He then emigrated to Switzerland and remained there until his death.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

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