The Robbers (Die Räuber), 1781

Friedrich Schiller is 22 years old when he writes the play The Robbers (Die Räuber) and has it printed anonymously. By the time it premiers at the national theater in Mannheim the following year the play is notorious and causes nation-wide furore.

The drama is centered on the rivalry between two aristocratic brothers: Ugly Franz is the second-born son and has felt inadequate and unloved all his life, in contrast to his brother Karl, who is away at university in Leipzig. Through an intrigue, Franz tries to deceive his brother of his rightful inheritance and succession of the father, count Maximilian von Moor. Karl believes himself disowned and joins a robber gang. In the end, both brothers fail: Franz, who has turned into a ruthless ruler over the noble estate, is assailed by the robber gang and, seeing no way out, takes his own life. Karl, feeling increasingly remorseful over his wrongdoings as a robber, surrenders himself to justice.
In typical «Sturm und Drang» fashion, the play criticizes the emerging bourgeois ideology. It addresses the struggle between law and personal freedom and the conflict between intellect and emotion, as well as different ideas of what it means to be a man. The Robbers denounce the deceitfulness of class and religion, as well as the economic disparity in society.

 

The Robbers, stage desgin by Irakli Gamrekeli and production by Sandro Akhmeteli at the Rustaveli Theater, Tbilisi, 1933.