Brecht on Anxiety and Lighting a Bomb in the Theatre

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In John Willett’s compendium of some of Brecht’s most important critical writings, the editor helps to outline the theatremaker’s development of his style. Each letter and article allows for a further glimpse into Brecht’s take on Epic Theatre, acting, and the alienation effect for which his works are so renowned.

On anxiety, Brecht aptly points out:

“In his obscure anxiety not to let the audience get away the actor is immediately so steamed up that he makes it seem the most natural thing in the world to insult one’s father. At the same time it can be seen that acting takes a tremendous lot out of him. And a man who strains himself on the stage is bound, if he is any good, to strain all the people sitting in the stalls.” – From Berliner Börsen-Courier, 1926

Around the same time this article was written, Brecht was insisting on a new type of audience engagement in the form of what he called “ ’smokers’ theatre.” The audience would puff on cigars and look on as if taking in a boxing match, therefore developing a more detached and critical outlook than was possible in the ordinary German theatre. Smoking was verboten in theatres at the time.

He posits:

“That in a Shakespearean production one man in the stalls with a cigar could bring about the downfall of Western art. He might as well light a bomb as light his cigar. I would be delighted to see our public allowed to smoke during performances. And I’d be delighted mainly for the actor’s sake. In my view it is quite impossible for the actor to play unnatural cramped and old-theatre to a man smoking in the stalls.” 

Forever pushing the boundaries of what theatre was “allowed to be” at the time, Brecht paved the way for many in the modern day interactive and absurdist theatre realms. Brecht on Theatre is a delight – like sitting down for a rare and illuminating coffee-date with Brecht himself.

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Leave a Message and Receive a “Call” Back Unlike Any Other

What happens when the world opens up to one musician, one voicemail at a time?

whattheyreallyneed

One Hello World tackles the universal desire for human connectedness – a mysterious pianist from Wichita sets strangers’ voicemails to music. Inspired by film scores and a deep curiosity about the our interconnectedness, his project explores the thoughts of others with honesty and creativity, bringing light to our universal condition.

Snippets from a few popular messages include:

I’m not afraid to grow up. I guess I’m just afraid that I’ll forget what it’s like to be a kid.”

“I think that loneliness is a term that’s misconceived by everybody. There’s two different things: there’s being alone and there’s being lonely. I’ve learned loneliness is only something you invite when you’re by yourself. And I can be by myself and be completely happy.”

I know that someday you will be happy, and even if it’s not with me. But there’s a little piece of me that hopes that you’ll be happy with me, old.”

“I realize now that I at least deserved to be loved as much as I loved. To be treated with respect and thoughtfulness. I will know you will do those things. You will piece my heart back together and show me what real love is supposed to be like. And everyday you will astound me with how wonderful life can be with the right person by my side. For now, I’m waiting patiently. I love you.

“You’re the first girl in a while to actually affect me. Make me care about somebody other than myself… maybe a warning for everyone else is, the worst thing you can do is fall in love with your best friend.”

Each message unique and yet part of a larger tapestry of what we care about, what hurts us, what inspires us, and what draws us together.

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Waterlogged

IthoughtI thought I caught the edge of a familiar shape

floatdownAnd so descended in haste through heavy waters

downbelowMany a soul caught there, cold and unwavering on the base of these depths

decendingBut the yawning hollow was not half as wide as it seemed. 

upforairSo I refilled my lungs

returnTo return again, to search for you

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Uniformity’s a Heavy Price to Pay

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We’re not so different, you and I.

Better to be bewildering, than wilting.

More apropos to be anything less than appropriate,

than forgotten for being familiar.

Come to know me and you will come to know

the corners of yourself long forgotten,

abandoned for in exchange for the status quo.

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The Only Risk of Knowledge is That You’ll Learn Something

Ooo dangerous.
Gujurat, India

Stuck mulling over the same ol’ field of thinking? Getting restless is a good sign.
It means your brain is craving for something more.

Challenge it.

Get that Ivy League education you always wanted. For free. Online. (Welcome to the future y’all)

Devour books old and new like they were going out of style. Kindle, you ain’t got nothing on nostalgia.

Remind yourself of Jefferson’s Democracy in less than 15 minutes with amazingly accessible YouTube crash courses.

The world is only getting larger and more easy to tap into every day.

What seeds of ideas have you planted lately?

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Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery – Too Little, Too Late?

Beautiful, aren’t you?
So glad that we could finally inspire you.

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