The Insect Play



  • A comedy by the Czech brothers Karel and Josef Čapek.The allegorical fantasy, influenced by expressionism, satirized greed,social regimentation, and man's attempts to come to terms with lifeand death. It was first performed in 1921 in Prague and became thebrothers' best-known work, opening two years later in London and in1948 in New York (as The Insect Comedy). It has also been seenas The Life of Insects, And So Ad Infinitum, and TheWorld We Live In.

    In the story, a drunken tramp wakes to find a lepidopteristchasing butterflies because of his "great love of nature".The tramp, curious about the insects around him, is suddenly shrunkto their size and finds that they have recognizably human personalities.A beetle couple roll around their ball of dung for which they have"saved, scraped, toiled, and moiled", but another beetlesteals it. The disgusted tramp pledges to sacrifice everything forthe good of the State but then sees the well-regimented ants fightingamongst themselves until one proclaims himself leader. The tramp,convinced that he has become wise about the world, weakens and dies.A woman with a newborn baby stops and places a flower upon his body.