Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Only in America . . .

. . . would this German-American farce work so well. Here is one page from a 16-page Dialog by W. Heinecke, entitled "Sell war ä hard Case" (That was a hard case). It was published in the early 1900s by the Antigo (Wisconsin) Publishing Company in a series for Jugendvereine (youth clubs), and features 8 male roles: Der Richter (an English-speaking judge); Farmer Schmierkäs; Farmer Käsewurm; ein Pennsylvanier; and four Zeugen or witnesses, Heiner, Jochen, Klas, and Seppl.

A lot of the humor comes from the German-speakers, who seem to be quite the lovers of beer, misunderstanding the judge. For example, when the judge thunders, "Stop now, what do you want here?" Käsewurm asks, "Wohnt hier. . . wer wohnt hier?" (Lives here, who lives here?) or the same character hearing "schöne Tag" (nice day) when the judge says "I can't understand your talk."

We haven't yet discovered much information on W. Heinecke, except that he wrote several of these playlets that were published in Antigo, with several featuring the character Seppl, including "Seppl läßt sich photographieren," "Seppl will reich werden" and "Seppl macht Geschäfte." Given the prevalence of Pennsylvania German dialect in the works we've seen, Heinecke may hail from that state, but we don't know for certain. If anyone has additional information on Heinecke and these humorous plays, do contact us at the Max Kade Institute!

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