One of things that I enjoy about keeping Theatre Room is the fact that I am constantly surprised by what I stumble upon in my research. There are always things out there that I haven’t seen before and today I want to share a recent find. The Oslo International Acting Festival took place in 2012 and 2013, organised by The Academy of Theatre, Oslo National Academy of The Arts and The Norwegian Actors’ Center, with a view to exploring the nature and future of the art of acting globally. As I write I can’t find any information about whether the festival will continue in the future but the videos (posted on a YouTube channel) from the two festivals so far are a goldmine for theatre students. At the 2012 festival the theme was techniques and methods and explored the work of Constantin Stanislavski, Stanford Meisner, Lee Strasberg, Michael Chekov and Bertolt Brecht amongst others. I’ve posted the discussion about Brechtian technique below:
The 2013 festival had audience as it’s focus, with talks and discussions including one led by The Wooster Group’s Richard Schechner and another by Gisella Mendoza, a South American practitioner of Theatre of The Oppressed, posted below:
I want to share an article today that was sent to me by an ex-student of mine, Clarissa Ko. Clarissa is studying at the University of San Francisco and is taking a class called Embodied Activism. Given the current political unrest and student protests here in Hong Kong, the article struck a particular note with us both. A number of gestures have been used by the protesters that are now recognisable. The crossed arms has come to represent mistrust of the Central Government in Beijing. Hands held in the air was seen after tear gas was employed against them and borrowed from the non-violent protests held in Missouri, following the killing of Michael Brown. Adapted from it original “hands up, don’t shoot” meaning in Missouri, it was used here by the student protesters to indicate to the police that their intentions were entirely peaceful. Universal gesture at its most potent. The Washington Post wrote about gesture used in mass protests around the world in the last few years, and produced this info graphic:
The article I referred to at the beginning, entitled Gesture, Choreography, and Protest in Ferguson, was written by Anusha Kedhar, Assistant Professor of Dance at Colorado College and makes fascinating reading. My colleague, Lou, has already used it as a way into the study of Peter Brook, the grand master of universal theatre . Published on The Feminist Wire, the piece is lengthy so I am only going to reproduce an extract here – you can read the rest at your leisure.
A Choreopolitics of Freedom: André Lepecki recently wrote about “choreopolicing” and “choreopolitics.” He defines choreopolitics as the choreography of protest, or even simply the freedom to move freely, which he claims is the ultimate expression of the political. He defines choreopolicing as the way in which “the police determines the space of circulation for protesters and ensures that everyone is in their permissible place”—imposing blockades, dispersing crowds, dragging bodies. The purpose of choreopolicing, he argues, is “to de-mobilize political action by means of implementing a certain kind of movement that prevents any formation and expression of the political.” Lepecki then asks what are the relations between political demonstrations as expressions of freedom, and police counter-moves as implementations of obedience? How do the choreopolitics of protest and the choreopolicing of the state interact?
Powerful stuff, I’m sure you’d agree. Brecht would have loved it too!
A quick post today, just to share a few collected video resources about Bertolt Brecht and his theatre.
The first set is from a BBC documentary made 25 years ago, but still a useful source of all things Brechtian. Sadly the whole documentary is no longer available. The final fourth clip is from the same documentary, but from a different source and shows Helene Weigel (Brecht’s second wife and acclaimed actresses of the period) explaining Epic theatre.
The second set come from the National Theatre in the UK and were filmed when they were mounting a production of Brecht’s Mother Courage:
The next is an interesting and eclectic small film called The Brecht Document which details Brecht’s and is composed of what its writer/director Warren Leming calls “fragments” from a two-year stay in Berlin,Germany which he made in 1986/87. The final couple of minutes are from The Jewish Wife (Fear and Misery of the Third Reich), one of Brecht’s most haunting texts.
This one is Eric Bentley, the eminent critic, playwright and translator on the life of – and his work with – the legendary Brecht.
And finally, and perhaps most extraordinarily, a recording of Brecht’s testimony to, and questioning by, the House Committee on Un-American Activites (The McCarthy witch hunts), hours before he returned to Germany.
I recently came across a great way of sharing audio streams, soundcloud.com. A lot of theatres and practitioners are using it as a way of sharing panel discussions. I have set up a sister site to this one so I can add to the diversity of what I post here. I won’t always duplicate posts or what I subscribe to on soundcloud so check it out occasionally to see what I have re-posted. You can find Theatre Room Asia on soundcloudhere.
I am going to share a great one today, which is a panel discussion of German and English theatre practitioners on the relevance of Bertolt Brecht and Brechtian theatre in the modern theatrical landscape.
To coincide with our production of A Life of Galileo, and in collaboration with the Goethe Institute in London, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) hosted a ‘Brecht Meeting’ of British and German theatre makers in March 2013.
Chaired by Mark Ravenhill (RSC playwright in residence and writer of our new English version of A Life of Galileo), we explored the relevance (if any) that Brecht has for us as contemporary theatre makers.
Has Brecht now become a familiar ‘classic’, who can be produced in the same way that we might play Shakespeare or Schiller?
Does he still present challenges that allow us to ask important questions in the making of new theatre?
Should we bury his work and move on as though he never happened?
And if would like to, you hear an interview with the director of A Life of Galileo, Roxana Silbert, with journalist Paul Allen.