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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Bite-sized Wisdom: Apollinaire

Maybe it’s a little easier than we think…From one of France’s foremost poets and playwrights:

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“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

Guillaume Apollinaire

Image Source, Kids chasing Father Christmas in London, 1926

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Bite-sized Wisdom: Seneca

Do you go to a theatrical experience for the length of the piece or the quality? A simple question that may sneak up and inform the way you live:

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“As it is with a play, so it is with life—what matters is not how long the acting lasts, but how good it is.”

– Seneca

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No Theatre No Problem

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There's a Fine Line Between Existing and Living

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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?

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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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No Words Necessary

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Marina Abramovic and Ulay began an intense romantic relationship in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meet for one last big hug in the middle and never see each other again.

As part of Marina’s 2010 MoMa retrospective ‘The Artist Is Present,’ she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.

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Rediscovering the Child

learnfastMaybe it’s been more than a little while since you allowed yourself to try something new, dig in with abandon, and fearlessly approach what you have no idea how to do.

Remember that we have all been beginners. There is no shame is starting and no time to late to start becoming the person you wish you be.

Approach it with childlike enthusiasm. No one tells an 8-month old that they’ll never learn how to walk. Because smack-talking a baby is bad form. Why allow the rules to change as you grow older?

Bolster new efforts of others, and you may find the courage to support your own.

Get kickin’ little one. There’s still more room to grow.

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Égalité. Finally.

marriage“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
– Obama

A beautiful day for California and the United States. Proud to see that love and respect continues to win out over hatred.

5 Simple Ways to Start Leading the Good Life

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1. Celebrate the ordinary and less than extraordinary. Because you can’t win the Nobel Peace Prize every day of the year. Cheer on the small moments in between the large ones, and you’ll start to notice how those peaks will advance towards you in rapid succession.

2. Get outside when it’s still light out. Summer’s official start date is tomorrow. How are you going to revel in it?

3. Make time for yourself. A whole good amount of it. Come to know yourself better than the tabloids know Justin Bieber’s whereabouts. Treat yourself to that manicure, bask leisurely for an hour doing absolutely nothing, and recharge. No point in running on empty.

4. Sing and dance like no one is watching/like the entire world is watching. These two should be one in the same. It’s often assumed that the scrutiny of many is a negative thing. If you truly approach whatever the task at hand is with gusto, people will notice, take note and maybe get a little bit inspired. Don’t apologize for loving the things that you do.

5. Unplug. From your cell phone, Facebook, from the endless internet to-do list. Go have an adventure. It’ll be there when you come back.

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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

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Easiest Way To Fail Is To Never Try

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Time to allow yourself to have it all.

“If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”

More of this illustrated story available via Brain Pickings