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Ludwig Thoma, The First of August [Der erste August] (1915)

In this play, Ludwig Thoma (1867-1921) recreates the world of a small Bavarian village and its experience of the mobilization for war. Far away from the centers of political and economic power, the concern of the villagers contrasts with the enthusiasm of many in the cities.

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Gschwendtner, farmer
Gschwendtnerin, his wife
Hans, their son
Loni, female farm worker
Martin, farm worker
Seppl, young male servant
A boy
The old weaver
Farm boys, reservists, etc.

Tidy living room in the old Bavarian style in a farmer’s house. The devotional corner is on the right. A heavy, rectangular table also stands in this corner. There are built-in benches on one side of the wall. The back wall has two low windows; the right wall has one. Geraniums and images of saints are hanging in the windows. A certificate commemorating the farmer’s military service and a diploma from the agricultural association are hanging on the wall. There is one door on the right which goes to the cellar. The door on the left goes to the bedroom.

[ . . . ]

From a distance, one hears a cry of joy, then another. All listen attentively, and Gschwendtner turns his head toward the window at this moment.

Hey! What kind of party is that in the middle of the harvest?

Well, tomorrow is Sunday . . .

But it’s in bad taste; there’ll be time enough for yelling your lungs out when the harvest has been brought in. Yeah, yeah, well, as I said, you can ask Schmid Lenz, Martin, if he could help out with the harvest . . . and [to Hans] the two of us will look at the white horse and see if it is still injured. Seppl . . . we two need to discuss something.

A shrill cry of joy resounds nearby. Everyone looks toward the window.

I wonder what’s going on out there?

A stampede. One would think it was the fair.

Gschwendtnerin [scared]
I don’t know . . . [She turns her head quickly toward the window.] There’s someone standing out there. [She gets halfway up from the chair.]

Heh, what’s the matter? [There is a loud knock at the window.] Really now! [He stands up and opens the window and the mayor appears.]

Gschwendtner, is Hans home?

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