Category Archives: Performance

BERLINER ENSEMBLE: “MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN” WITH HELENE WEIGEL, “AN UNMISSABLE OPPORTUNITY”–UK GUARDIAN ·

STREAMING FROM FRIDAY FOR A WEEK: BERLINER ENSEMBLE–“MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN” WITH HELENE WEIGEL, FROM 1957  

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Stay at home – BE at home: While the doors of the Berlin ensemble must remain closed to our audience, we provide you with a recording of a repertoire or historically significant staging as an online stream once a week. The stream of the week is always available from Fridays and then for a week.

We are very pleased that we can now show you, in collaboration with the Bertolt Brecht Archive of the Academy of the Arts, a recording of Bertolt Brechts and Erich Engels’ staging of “Mother Courage and Her Children” with Helene Weigel from 1957 (German audio only!). We can now make this staging, which is important in terms of theater history, accessible to a larger audience for the first time and thank the Bertolt Brecht heirs and Suhrkamp Verlag for this. The stream is available free of charge until midnight on May 21, 2020 at “BE at home”.

From May 22, 2020, 6:00 p.m., we will show a recording of Heiner Müller’s “Macbeth” in a production by Michael Thalheimer (with English Surtitles!).

Further digital offers from the Berlin Ensemble can be found at www.berliner-ensemble.de/be-at-home.

Photo: © Hainer Hill ©AdK, Berlin

 

Read more from Chris Wiegand in the Guardian:

Mother Courage

Achtung! Here’s an unmissable opportunity to catch a piece of German theatre history (though without English subtitles). The Berliner Ensemble is streaming a different production each week for its BE at Home programme, and from 15-22 May you can see Brecht’s classic play about the 30 years war in Europe. Legendary actor Helene Weigel, Brecht’s wife, plays the title role. Weigel played the part of the indomitable profiteer and matriarch more than 200 times in her career.

For further streaming events

 

Synopsis, from Wikipedia:

Mother Courage and Her Children

The play is set in the 17th century in Europe during the Thirty Years’ War. The Recruiting Officer and Sergeant are introduced, both complaining about the difficulty of recruiting soldiers to the war. Anna Fierling (Mother Courage) enters pulling a cart containing provisions for sale to soldiers, and introduces her children Eilif, Kattrin, and Schweizerkas (“Swiss Cheese”). The sergeant negotiates a deal with Mother Courage while Eilif is conscripted by the Recruiting Officer.

Two years thereafter, Mother Courage argues with a Protestant General’s cook over a capon, and Eilif is congratulated by the General for killing peasants and slaughtering their cattle. Eilif and his mother sing “The Fishwife and the Soldier”. Mother Courage scolds her son for endangering himself.

Three years later, Swiss Cheese works as an army paymaster. The camp prostitute, Yvette Pottier, sings “The Fraternization Song”. Mother Courage uses this song to warn Kattrin against involving herself with soldiers. Before the Catholic troops arrive, the Cook and Chaplain bring a message from Eilif. Swiss Cheese hides the regiment’s paybox from invading soldiers, and Mother Courage and companions change their insignia from Protestant to Catholic. Swiss Cheese is captured and tortured by the Catholics having hidden the paybox by the river. Mother Courage attempts bribery to free him, planning to pawn the wagon first and redeem it with the regiment money. When Swiss Cheese claims that he has thrown the box in the river, Mother Courage backtracks on the price, and Swiss Cheese is killed. Fearing to be shot as an accomplice, Mother Courage does not acknowledge his body, and it is discarded.

Later, Mother Courage waits outside the General’s tent to register a complaint and sings the “Song of Great Capitulation” to a young soldier anxious to complain of inadequate pay. The song persuades both to withdraw their complaints.

When Catholic General Tilly’s funeral approaches, the Chaplain tells Mother Courage that the war will still continue, and she is persuaded to pile up stocks. The Chaplain then suggests to Mother Courage that she marry him, but she rejects his proposal. Mother Courage curses the war because she finds Kattrin disfigured after being raped by a drunken soldier. Thereafter Mother Courage is again following the Protestant army.

Two peasants try to sell merchandise to her when they hear news of peace with the death of the Swedish king. The Cook appears and causes an argument between Mother Courage and the Chaplain. Mother Courage is off to the market while Eilif enters, dragged in by soldiers. Eilif is executed for killing a peasant while stealing livestock, trying to repeat the same act for which he was praised as hero in wartime, but Mother Courage never hears thereof. When she finds out the war continues, the Cook and Mother Courage move on with the wagon.

In the seventeenth year of the war, there is no food and no supplies. The Cook inherits an inn in Utrecht and suggests to Mother Courage that she operate it with him, but refuses to harbour Kattrin. Thereafter Mother Courage and Kattrin pull the wagon by themselves.

When Mother Courage is trading in the Protestant city of Halle, Kattrin is left with a peasant family in the countryside overnight. As Catholic soldiers force the peasants to guide the army to the city for a sneak attack, Kattrin fetches a drum from the cart and beats it, waking the townspeople, but is herself shot. Early in the morning, Mother Courage sings a lullaby to her daughter’s corpse, has the peasants bury it, and hitches herself to the cart.

MABOU MINES: WATCH ‘DEAD END KIDS: A STORY OF NUCLEAR POWER’ ·

DEAD END KIDS:

A STORY OF
NUCLEAR POWER

Visit and give to Mabou Mines

Watch ‘Dead End Kids’

________________________

CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY

JoAnne Akalaitis

THE PLAY …

PREMIERE: November 11, 1980 Presented by Joseph Papp at The Public Theater – NYC

Text by JoAnne Akalaitis & Company, with excerpts from the writings of Paracelsus, Eve Curie, Marie Curie, Goethe, Jorge Luis Borges, General L.R. Groves and from institutional and government reports on nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.

“Almost single-handedly she (JoAnne Akalaitis) is giving new life to the whole notion of political theater.”

– FRANK RICH, NY TIMES

THE FILM …

PREMIERE: NOVEMBER 5, 1986 FILM FORUM I – NYC

PRODUCED BY Marian Godfrey & Monty Diamond
MUSIC BY David Byrne with additional music by: Philip Glass

Photo: Mabou Mines

 

MABOU MINES: FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE 1980’S–“HAJJ” ·

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Give to Mabou Mines

 

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE 1980’S

 

A NEW YORK SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL/MABOU MINES PRODUCTION
PRESENTED BY JOSEPH PAPP

HAJJ
A PERFORMANCE POEM

The Public Theater – April, 1983

WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY

LEE BREUER

 

 

PERFORMED BY

RUTH MALECZECH

“The collaborative conception of the piece meant that it was up to Maleczech to supply the “memories,” and she chose a trip she took as a child with her father in an army truck as the basis for the prerecorded video. Videographer Craig Jones, meanwhile, came up with the idea of setting the piece at a vanity table, using two-way mirrors to make the video a metaphor for observing oneself. “We also had in the back of our minds the Dorian Gray idea that the image of oneself changes in relation to one’s spiritual position,” says Breuer.”
 

Don Shewey, American Film, January-February 1983

 

“Her reflections in the mirror … stand out with the lucidity of three dimensional photographs.”

– NY Times Mel Gussow – May 11, 1983

WATCH OFFICIAL FRANKENSTEIN WITH BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH AS THE CREATURE | FREE NATIONAL THEATRE FULL PLAY—ONLY UNTIL MAY 7 ·

(National Theatre.)

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A new play by Nick Dear, based on the novel by Mary Shelley. Watch Danny Boyle’s monster hit Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature is streaming for free from 7pm UK time on Thursday 30 April. Available on demand until 7pm UK time on Thursday 7 May. It is subtitled and the running time is 2 hours. See the cast swap roles with Jonny Lee Miller as the creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein, streaming for free from 7pm UK time on Friday 1 May. Available on demand until 7pm UK time on Friday 8 May on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/dI88grIRAnY Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein’s bewildered creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, the increasingly desperate and vengeful Creature determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal. This filmed performance is recommended for ages 12 and up. The recording has been adjusted for YouTube. — We hope, as you enjoy this content and the weekly recorded performances, you’ll consider a donation to the National Theatre, or your local theatre.

 

If you’d like to support us, you can donate here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk or text NTATHOME 10 to 70085 to donate £10. We’ve launched National Theatre at Home to give you access to theatre online, worldwide. There are further titles to be announced. Find out more about National Theatre at Home: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/nt…

 

A full list of the cast and creatives is available here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/si… If you’re studying this play, or sharing it with someone who is, you might find this Education Resource Pack helpful: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/si… #NationalTheatre #NationalTheatreLive #NationalTheatreAtHome #Frankenstein — Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/NationalThea… Sign up to our monthly newsletter: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/re… National Theatre Twitter: https://twitter.com/NationalTheatre National Theatre Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nationaltheatre National Theatre Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nationalthe… National Theatre Live Twitter: https://twitter.com/NTLive National Theatre Live Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ntlive/

 

Thank you to the amazing artists who have allowed us to share Frankenstein in this way, during this unprecedented time, when so many theatre fans can’t visit their local theatres. At the National Theatre in London, we make world-class theatre that is entertaining, challenging and inspiring. And we make it for everyone. National Theatre Live is National Theatre’s ground-breaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre to cinemas in the UK and internationally. Frankenstein was filmed live on-stage in 2011 by National Theatre Live. This recording has been edited for use on YouTube.

‘WOW, I’D LOVE TO BE SOMEONE LIKE THAT!’ SALLY COOKSON ON OUR PASSION FOR JANE EYRE ·

(Chris Wiegands’ Guardian interview appeared 4/7.)

(Go to National Theatre at Home)

As her bold staging of the classic novel is screened as part of National Theatre at Home, the director discusses Brontë’s genius – and the seismic effects of lockdown

‘The Orson Welles film completely misses the point’ … Jane Eyre at the National Theatre in 2015. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

What drew you to staging Jane Eyre?
It’s a story I’ve loved since I was a child although I didn’t read the novel until I was in my 20s. As a kid I was intrigued by the black-and-white film noir version with Orson Welles as Rochester and music by Bernard Herrmann. When I read the book at drama school, I thought: that film completely misses the point. It might as well have been called Rochester. The book is a clarion call for equal opportunities for women, not a story about a passive female who’ll do anything for her hunky boss.

I was struck by how modern Charlotte Brontë’s Jane seemed – her spirit and strong will, her peculiar and brilliant mind. She lashes out against anything that prevents her from being herself. I just thought: wow, I’d love to be someone like that. It’s such an epic story and has been so often turned into film, TV, theatre and ballet versions. I was intrigued as to why we keep going back to it.

Was it a daunting project, knowing that the book is so loved?
Adapting a novel like that is challenging – it’s taken on legendary status. If you’re going to be as bold as to do another version, you have to put all that to one side and trust that you’ve got a right to tell this story and it’s going to be how the people in the room want to tell this story. So I was initially anxious but quickly forgot about it.

When you read the novel again, did it surprise you at all?
As a child, I had been drawn to the romance of the film. In my 20s I was attracted to the feminism. As a mature woman, I was struck by the individual human rights and the weight the novel places on them. Jane understands from a very early age that you need to be emotionally, spiritually and intellectually nourished to thrive. She didn’t have any of these things given to her. They are basic human needs we all require to flourish. That’s what I wanted to bring to the fore.

(Read more)

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: ‘A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE’ WITH ANNE MARIE DUFF (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

A Streetcar Named Desire

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Drama on 3

Anne Marie Duff leads a stellar cast in a new landmark production of Tennessee Williams’s iconic play, telling the story of a catastrophic confrontation between fantasy and reality, embodied in the characters of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski.

Blanche DuBois arrives unexpectedly on the doorstep of her sister Stella and her explosive brother-in-law Stanley. Over the course of one hot and steamy New Orleans summer, Blanche’s fragile façade slowly crumbles, wreaking havoc on Stella and Stanley’s already turbulent relationship. Embodying the turmoil and drama of a changing nation, A Streetcar Named Desire strips Williams’s tortured characters of their illusions, leaving a wake of destruction in their path.

Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play is justifiably one of the most loved and well-known stage plays of the 20th century. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award in 1948, and picked up four Oscars when it transferred to the screen with largely the same cast three years later. When it made its London debut, the Public Morality Council denounced it as “salacious and pornographic”. Not coincidentally, the production was booked solid for nine months.

Anne-Marie Duff (Blanche) is an Olivier-winning actress, who will soon be appearing in DC Moore’s ‘Common’ at the National Theatre. Matthew Needham’s (Stanley) previous work includes the eponymous role in Mark Ravenhill’s ‘Candide’ at the RSC. Pippa Bennett-Warner (Stella) recently appeared in The Beaux’ Stratagem at the National Theatre, and in River on BBC One. John Heffernan’s (Mitch) work includes titular roles in ‘Macbeth’ at the Young Vic Theatre and ‘Oppenheimer’ with the RSC.

Broadcast by arrangement with the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.

Photo: BBC Radio 3

BOOK: JOAN ACOCELLA ON ‘MARIUS PETIPA: THE EMPEROR’S BALLET MASTER’ ·

A scene in the Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadère, 1900; from Marius Petipa: La Dansomanie, a two-volume album in three languages published last year by the St. Petersburg Museum of Theater and Music to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Petipa’s birth

(Acocella’s article appeared in The New York Review of Books, 12/19.)

Souls in Single File

Marius Petipa: The Emperor’s Ballet Master

by Nadine Meisner

Oxford University Press, 497 pp., $34.95

A scene in the Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadère, 1900; from Marius Petipa: La Dansomanie, a two-volume album in three languages published last year by the St. Petersburg Museum of Theater and Music to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Petipa’s birth

It will surprise many people, but not many dance historians, that the most productive and influential ballet choreographer of the late nineteenth century, the Franco-Russian Marius Petipa (1818–1910), was accorded no biography for more than a century after his death. Dance was central to the religious and patriotic festivals of ancient Greece and Rome, but with the transfer of power to the Christian church, it was pretty much kicked out of the arts. It was too closely associated with bodily pleasure. Social dance probably never died out among common folk. As for the better-placed folk, the processions in which the servants of the French and Italian courts of the Renaissance brought dinner to their guests involved, if not exactly dancing, then a great deal of synchronized gown-swishing and foot-pointing. But dance did not officially reenter the lists of the high arts in the West until the seventeenth century, under Louis XIV. Louis imported music masters and dance masters, mostly from Italy, to create elaborate allegorical ballets, in which he himself appeared. In 1661, he founded Europe’s first proper dance school, the Académie Royale de la Danse.

In those days, dance people, like most other theater people, tended to come in families, including actors and musicians as well, because not all of them had a royal academy to teach them their arts. They learned from their mothers and fathers. Also, there was still a stigma attached to making one’s living on the stage (Molière, famously, was denied a Christian burial), so theatrical professionals often married within their own ranks and thereby created clans.

One was the Petipas of France and Belgium. Their name starts appearing in the annals of the Continental theater at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Marius Petipa was the son of a ballet master (that is, a teacher/choreographer) and an actress; most of his siblings too were theater people. In the beginning, he was not the star of the family. That was his older brother, Lucien, a handsomer man and a far better technician. Lucien was the premier classicist of the Paris Opera Ballet, the oldest and most respected company in Europe. (It was the descendant of Louis XIV’s academy.) He was in demand all the way to Russia, but when Russia called, it is said, Lucien, already in possession of a good job, declined, and recommended his younger brother. Thus, in 1847, Marius Petipa, age twenty-nine, presented himself at St. Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet and was given a one-year, let’s-see contract. As it turned out, he stayed for sixty-three years and was the company’s artistic director—or first ballet master, as they called it—for nearly thirty-five years. In Russia he created more than fifty original ballets, mounted versions of nineteen other ballets, and fashioned dances for thirty-seven operas. Today, the name of Lucien is known only to specialists, whereas Marius is acknowledged as the prime creator of late-nineteenth-century ballet and, one could say, the foremost source of twentieth-century ballet as well.

Still, this did not earn him a proper biography—in any language, not just English—until last spring, with the publication of Marius Petipa: The Emperor’s Ballet Master by Nadine Meisner, a longtime dance critic in London.1 The book is low on analysis, but at last someone has collected the facts—the successes, the flops, everybody’s patronymic—and put them down in graceful English prose.

(Read more)

BRECHT/EISLER: ‘THE MOTHER’ (‘DRAMA ON 3’) ·

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The Mother by Bertolt Brecht with original musical score by Hanns Eisler.
Translated by Mark Ravenhill, from a literal translation by Marc Funda, with song lyrics translated by Steve Trafford.

When Pelagea Vlassova’s son Pavel becomes involved in political activity her radical action to protect him from imprisonment transforms her into the figurehead for a revolutionary movement. Brecht and Eisler’s iconic drama set in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Vlassova…..Maxine Peake
Pavel…..Andy Coxon
Anton and Sigorski…..Esh Alladi
Ivan…..Nico Mirallegro
Mascha…..Elen Rhys
Andrei and Luschin…..Rupert Hill
Nikolai and Inspector…..William Ash
Vassil and Smilgin…..Kevin Harvey
Karpov and the Landlady…..Christine Bottomley
The Niece…..Nadia Emam

All other parts were played by the company.

Songs by the Chorus of Revolutionary Workers were performed by Kantos Chamber Choir

Directed by Nadia Molinari
Conducted by HK Gruber

A Radio Drama North Production in association with BBC Philharmonic.

Recorded in front of an audience at Middleton Hall in Hull as part of BBC Contains Strong Language Festival.

 

SHAKESPEARE: ‘THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN’ (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

 

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This and the Two Gentlemen of Verona are the least performed of the Shakespeare cannon and I wanted to see the progression between the first and the last. It is for this reason that I have given this production a modern feel in terms of sound and music. I wanted to record them with the same actors entirely on location to give the sense of a strolling company, making the most of the countryside around enabling them to be as honest to the story as they possibly could be.

On the day planned for his wedding to Hippolyta, Duke Theseus of Athens is petitioned by three queens to go to war against King Creon of Thebes, who has deprived their dead husbands of proper burial rites. In Thebes, the ‘two noble kinsmen’, Palamon and Arcite, realize that their own hatred of Creon’s tyranny must be put aside while their native city is in danger, but in spite of their valour in battle it is Theseus who is victorious. Imprisoned in Athens, the cousins catch sight of Hippolyta’s sister, Emilia, and both fall instantly in love with her. Arcite is set free, but disguises himself rather than return to Thebes, while Palamon escapes with the help of the Jailer’s Daughter, who loves him. Meeting each other, the kinsmen agree that mortal combat between them must decide the issue, but they are discovered by Theseus who is persuaded to revoke his sentence of death and instead decrees that a tournament shall decide which cousin is to be married to the indecisive Emilia and which is to lose his head. The Jailer’s Daughter has been driven mad by unrequited love, but accepts her former suitor when he pretends to be Palamon. Before the tournament Arcite makes a lengthy invocation to Mars, while Palamon prays to Venus and Emilia to Diana – for victory to go to the one who loves her best. Although Arcite triumphs, he is thrown from his horse before the death sentence on Palamon can be carried out, and with his last breath bequeaths Emilia to his friend.

JAILER’S DAUGHTER ….. Lyndsey Marshal 
EMILIA ….. Kate Phillips 
PALAMON ….. Blake Ritson 
ARCITE ….. Nikesh Patel 
THESEUS ….. Ray Fearon 
HIPPOLYTA ….. Emma Fielding 
JAILER ….. Hugh Ross 
PIRITHIOUS ….. Daniel Ryan 
WOOER ….. Oliver Chris 
QUEEN 1 ….. Susan Salmon 
QUEEN 2 ….. Sara Markland 
QUEEN 3/DOCTOR ….. Jane Whittenshaw 
COUNTRYMAN 1/FRIEND ….. Sam Dale 
ARTESIUS/COUNTRYMAN 2 ….. Carl Prekopp 
COUNTRYMAN 3/BROTHER ….. Pip Donaghy

Music composed and performed by Tom Glenister and sung by Emma Mackey and Tom Glenister