A Festival of Brecht One Acts

By Bertolt Brecht

Directed by Advanced Directing Students, supervised by Norma Saldivar

Celebrate the one-hundredth birthday of German playwright Bertolt Brecht, reigning genius of the modern theater, as we stage some of Brecht's most provocative and entertaining short works.

This festival consists of two distinctly different evenings with very distinct concepts. Brecht: Perversions/Inversions concentrates more on the political ideas woven throughout his works, often relating them to the politics of the '90s, while Brecht: Passport Photos looks at the turbulent lives of displaced persons, relating somewhat personally to Brecht himself.

The two evenings encompass both the comedy and seriousness behind Brecht in a multimedia theatrical experience showcasing samples of his plays, music, poetry, and short stories.

Produced by the University Theatre in the Hemsley Theatre

Brecht: Perversions/Inversions runs December 3, 5, 9, and 11 at 7:30 pm and on December 12 at 3 pm.

Brecht: Passport Photos runs December 4, 8, 10, and 12 at 7:30 pm and on December 5 at 3 pm.

All performances are held in the Hemsley Theatre in Vilas Hall on the UW-Madison campus. Tickets are $9 for the general public and $6 for UW students and are available at the Vilas Hall Box office, call (608) 262-1500.


"Direct" Experience with Brecht

by Vickie L. Eiden

You may have heard the buzz about Bertolt Brecht, German playwright, poet, and composer, this year; 1998 marks the 100th year since his birth in Augsburg, Germany, on February 10, 1898. He is well known for the strong political themes in his plays, and is credited with changing the course of modern European theatre, indeed, theatre around the world, through his conception of "alienation" in the epic style of theatre. Forced by the Nazis to flee Germany because of his leftist writing, Brecht was stripped of his German citizenship in 1935 and spent much of his creative life on the run, living in Sweden, Finland, and California before returning to Berlin in 1949, where he died on August 14, 1956.

Nine directing students in the UW-Madison Theatre and Drama department, working collaboratively under the supervision of Assistant Professor Norma Saldivar, are getting to know Brecht's works very well. Extremely well, in fact. They are all directing 15 to 30 minute pieces written by Brecht, creating a festival of Brechtian plays, with some taking more traditional views of Brecht and others more avant-garde, experimental approaches.

According to Saldivar, the idea behind the course is to allow the students to take a piece from analysis to conception, through the rehearsal process and into production for presentation to a live audience. The actors have the opportunity to be part of an ensemble, the directors have the chance to work with designers and a small budget, the designers have the chance to work with a collaborative, and the audience receives a variety of theatre; a win-win-win situation.

When asked her feelings on directing Brechtian theatre, UW Senior and student director Katrina Pavlik replied, "So many times modern theatre is geared towards the lowest common denominator, people are afraid of losing their audience if they make any political or social statements. The wonderful thing about Brecht is that he demands that you are with him intellectually every step of the way, that even if you laugh, you begin to wonder why you're laughing."