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PS Picks: German Playwright Friedrich Schiller's 'Love and Intrigue'

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805), German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright.

Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805), German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright.

In 1782 the German playwright Friedrich Schiller was arrested on the order of the Charles Eugene, Duke of Württemberg, after the free-thinking Schiller deserted the army regiment to which he was posted as a doctor in order to attend the premiere of his play The Robbers. The duke banned Schiller from staging future productions, and Schiller fled from Stuttgart to Mannheim to write Love and Intrigue (occasionally styled as Intrigue and Love), the tragic story of a young couple whose happiness is thwarted by the political machinations of their parents.

A staging of Schiller's Sturm und Drang play (and it contains plenty of each) ran from June 6th through June 16th at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, presented and performed by the Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia, led by director Lev Dodin. An obscure two-and-a-half-hour 18th-century drama (performed entirely in Russian, no less!) might seem like a hard sell, but Schiller himself saw the stage as a sort of grand courtroom, where questions of morality could be posed and answered in front of captive audiences. Love and Intrigue, in which the values of the middle class are pitted against those of noble birth, suggests to modern viewers that love is political—and that all politics, in the end, must reckon with love.

A version of this story originally appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.