Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Brecht and Beckett Waiting for...
George Hunka on his Theatre Blog Superfluities brings up an interesting observation about this coming theatrical season. In the next year, we have the convergence of two milestones:

1. The Hundreth Birthday of Samuel Beckett
2. The Fiftieth Anniversary of Bertolt Brecht's Death

Few will disagree with the statement that these two men are probably the most influential twentieth century dramatists. However, he notes that no major festival or even productions of either man's work seems to be scheduled for New York.

I took a quick perusal of our Boston theatres and their schedules for this coming season and found it to be the same story. Even the ART seems to be passing on both playwrights. Not a criticism, just an observation.

George wrote a whole other post on why Brecht doesn't seem to be attracting the same attention he probably should.

"Brecht's vast achievement and huge body of work (at least 40 plays alone, not to mention a novel, dozens of short stories, and a book of collected poems that runs to 627 pages in my 1976 Methuen edition) provides a twentieth-century parallel to Shakespeare, exemplifying an extraordinary array of forms from ballet to the opera to the musical to spare agitprop to sprawling historical panoramas like Life of Galileo to parables like The Good Person of Setzuan."

A number of articles have been written recently about the resurgence of Shakespeare, and most of them are really questioning as to whether or not we can have "too much Shakespeare!" Does Shakespeare have more to say to us than Brecht and Beckett at this time in our history? Or, is Shakespeare somehow more accessible right now? Or are these types of questions irrelevant and basically interchangeable over time. In other words, fifteen years from now will we be shouting, "enough with Brecht, it's been ages since I've seen a big production of Corialanus!"

Then again, there seems to be a resurgence of Greek tragedy lately, although Ed Seigel chastised the Boston theatre community for not producing enough of it. (I initially thought he was being harsh, but upon checking the record of productions...I think I have to admit he was right about the paucity.)

It may come down to finances. Maybe Beckett and Brecht are just not great draws.

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