Friday 12th of August 2022

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players... for you and us to create OUR peace as one...


Theater spieltet ihr in Trümmern hier
Nun spielt in schönem Haus, nicht nur zum Zeitvertreibe.
Aus euch und uns ersteh ein friedlich WIR
Damit dies Haus und manches andre stehen bleibe!

You played in this theater in ruins yesterday
Now play in this beautiful house, not just for fun.
But for you and us to create OUR peace as one
So that this house and everything else can stay!

It is always difficult to translate poetry. We explain this problem in detail in Faust as the French translation by Gerard de Nerval is far more flowing yet less accurate than most English translations done word for word.

In the verses above, Brecht expresses a unity of you and us as WE (WIR). It’s a difficult concept to convey, but very powerful and beautiful in German. 

The Theater am Schiffbauerdamm still exists. It survived the war more or less intact. It is situated on the Schiffbauerdamm riverside in the Mitte district of Berlin. Opened on November 19, 1892, it has been home to the Berliner Ensemble since 1954, the theatre company founded in 1949 by Helene Weigel and Bertolt Brecht. One of its features is the turning massive stage patform, the old original mechanism still in perfect order.

The first name of this Neo-baroque building by architect Heinrich Seeling was Neues Theater (New Theatre). The first performance was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play Iphigenie auf Tauris. From 1903 to 1906, it was under the management of Max Reinhardt. 

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From Off Guardian, about Chernobyl, the movie that has been done by Hollywood, to yet again do more Russian bashing:

It is an age-old question as to the extent art reflects the world we live in. Bertolt Brecht allegedly said to the contrary that art was not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.” 

The Marxist German playwright devised theatrical methods designed to distance the audience from the staged drama while drawing self-reflexive attention to the contrived nature of the spectacle itself. 

The idea was that by estranging the spectator and encouraging critical examination, they would come to view society’s manmade injustices as similarly unnatural and be given agency to transform them in the real world. One of the implications of Brecht’s notion was that art in its more conventional forms often functions as a tool of mass persuasion for those in power to reinforce those inequities. 

Marx and Engels themselves professed to have learned more about the contradictions of French society from the novels of Honoré de Balzac, which upheld the monarchy and the Church, than any historians or philosophers of their day. At its very worst, artistic mediums can be used by governments to manipulate a nation’s attitude towards other countries in order to justify war.

Brecht’s life and work coincided with the development of the film industry. However, most productions influenced by his ‘epic theatre’ were art-house and foreign films while commercial, mass-market Hollywood movies placed greater emphasis on appealing to the emotions over intellect. 

However, there were some exceptions such as Charlie Chaplin who not coincidentally was persecuted for his politics by the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the Red Scare. 

In the Cold War, Tinseltown played an important role in the cultural battlefield against the USSR and anti-Soviet paranoia was an ever-present theme in American cinema for decades, from the McCarthy era until the Berlin Wall fell.

Contemporaneously, a revival of geopolitical tensions between the United States and the Russian Federation — which many have dubbed a second Cold War — has seen the return of such tropes on the silver screen. Most recently, it has resurfaced in popular web television shows such as the third season of Netflix’s retro science fiction/horror series Stranger Things, as well as HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl, which dramatizes the 1986 nuclear accident in Soviet Ukraine.

It was a famous cinematic work that many believe ominously foreshadowed Chernobyl in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 science fiction film, Stalker, less than a decade prior to the calamity. It is unlikely that HBO would have been as interested in green-lighting a five-part program on the disaster without the current hysteria surrounding the unproven allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and ‘collusion’ between Moscow and the Trump campaign. 

‘Russiagate’ has become a national obsession and suddenly the very idea of corruption and intrigue has been made synonymous with the Kremlin. Hollywood liberal figures have been some of the hoax’s biggest proponents, including the show’s writer, Craig Mazin. 

It is equally as hard to imagine Americans themselves being as captivated by a re-enactment of the nuclear accident without the current political climate of fear-mongering bombarding them every day in corporate media. From the perspective of the U.S. political establishment, what better way to deflect attention away from its own sins than onto a manufactured adversary?

For instance, a recent Columbia University study found that sections of the Marshall Islands, which the U.S. acquired from Japan following WWII and conducted countless nuclear tests nearby in the Pacific, is significantly more radioactive than Chernobyl. The highest radiation levels were found on the Bikini atoll, where evacuated islanders were initially told they could return shortly after tests began in 1946 but have been waiting more than seventy years to come home.


Read more:



the theatre of brecht...

inside the theatre


More to come.


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All pictures by Gus Leonisky