Bertolt Brecht: irresistible force or forgotten chapter in theatrical history?
Brecht’s belief that drama should present moral ideas through action is unfashionable, but as theatre becomes ever more narcissistic, audiences are seeking him out again
- theguardian.com, Wednesday 18 September 2013 16.37 BST
It’s that man again: Bertolt Brecht. His early play, In the Jungle of Cities, is being revived at London’s Arcola, and later this month he’s back in the West End, as Jonathan Church‘s Chichester production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui moves to the Duchess. It’s a production that won lots of praise when first seen last year, not least for the comic demonism of Henry Goodman‘s performance as the eponymous Chicago racketeer who provides a metaphor for Adolf Hitler. But, for all its dazzling energy, I suspect the production will raise all the old arguments about Brecht’s standing today. Is he still an irresistible force or simply a chapter in theatrical history whose reputation has declined with the collapse of eastern European communism?
In weighing up the pros and cons, one has to start with a basic fact: as both a practising dramatist and visionary theorist, Brecht changed the face of modern theatre. Just to take Britain alone, I’d argue that the historic visit by Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble to London in 1956 did more than any other single event – even than the premiere of Waiting for Godot a year earlier – to shake us out of our rooted complacency. The spare Brechtian aesthetic had a profound influence on the newly founded English Stage Company at the Royal Court, and the realisation of what a permanent company could achieve shaped the creation of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 and the National theatre in 1963….
Readmore here, please: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/sep/18/bertolt-brecht-arturo-ui-revival/print
- Bertolt Brecht: irresistible force or forgotten chapter in theatrical history? (theguardian.com)
- Bertolt Brechts Werke–Full-text Database (wulibraries.typepad.com)
- “The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre” – Bertolt Brecht (theiskra.wordpress.com)