Wolfgang Maria Bauer

Der Schatten eines Fluges
Die Geschichte von Mathias Kneißl
Stück in 13 Bildern
2 D, 8 H, Verwandlungsdek
UA: 05.10.1996 · Das Schauspielhaus, Wien · Directed by: Hans Gratzer
The Kneißl family leads a poor, austere life. They go hungry quite often. Only by breaking the law can they feed their seven children. Raised like this, Mathias, born in 1875, learns from an early age to fend for himself, to poach, to shoot. When he and his brother, Alois, are supposed to be arrested for skipping school, Alois resists and shoots the constable. For this, he, a fifteen-year-old boy, is sentenced to fifteen years of jail. Mathias is also jailed for alleged involvement. When Mathias leaves jail after nearly six years, he is dreaming of a ‘normal’ life. But as much as he tries, his reputation precedes him. Because of this, he doesn’t have a choice: he has to poach again, steal again, and finally even shoot and kill. Soon, his image is printed in the newspapers, wanted posters are being put up and the police start the famous ‘Kneißlhunt’. Mathias plays cat and mouse with the constables, escapes again and again and ridicules the authorities. He has an easy job, especially because the people are on his side. They support him, give him food, hide him, because this Kneißl is one of them. Thus, Mathias slowly becomes what he never wanted to be: a hero of the people.
He is 27 years young when he is sent to the block in 1902. His lover Mathilde has betrayed him for the bounty. The newspapers report this on the front page, and 3,000 people gather before the gates of the execution square to cheer on their Kneißl one last time.