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Drums in the Night

Drums in the Night (Trommeln in der Nacht) is a play by the German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht.

Brecht wrote it between 1918 and 1920, and it received its first theatrical production in 1922. It is in the expressionist style of Ernst Toller and Georg Kaiser. The play—along with Baal and In the Jungle—won the prestigious German drama award the Kleist Prize for 1922 (although it was widely assumed, perhaps because Drums was the only play of the three to have been produced at that point, that the prize had been awarded to Drums alone); the play was performed all over Germany as a result. Brecht later claimed that he had only written it as a source of income.

 

Drums in the Night is one of Brecht's earliest plays, written before he became a convinced Marxist, but already the importance of class struggle in Brecht's thinking is apparent. According to Lion Feuchtwanger, the play was originally entitled Spartakus. Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League—who were instrumental in the 'Spartacist uprising' in Berlin in January 1919—had only recently been abducted, tortured and killed by Freikorps soldiers (Rosa was battered to death with rifle butts and thrown into a nearby river while Karl was shot in the back of the head then deposited as an unknown body in a nearby mortuary), in that same month of 1919.

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