Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Brecht's Kabaret promises to enlighten and entertain

By Tamara Letkeman, doug Editor

Psst … Bertolt Brecht has something to tell you, and it kind of goes like this: even though the Egyptians ousted Mubarek, they shouldn’t pat themselves on the back, as the things that allowed him to come to power still exist, and could help issue in another dictator. Overturning one monster doesn’t mean that they’ve solved the problem.

Actually, Brecht – whose heyday was in the 1930s and ’40s – was talking about Hitler. But as with all great artists, his observations of his own times resonate with us powerfully today.

This is but one reason to go see Brecht’s Kabaret, a celebration of the German dramatist’s political and artistic life through play excerpts, songs – and especially his poems – brought to you by the Theatre and Stagecraft & Event Technology departments at Douglas College March 4-12.

“The production is very much a raising of social awareness around issues of power, subjugation, class struggle, Nazi propaganda and Nazi programs to destroy other ethnicities and cultures including Jews, blacks, gays and others,” says Allan Lysell, Director/compiler of Brecht’s Kabaret and Theatre instructor at Douglas.

Brecht is known mainly for his plays, which include The Threepenny Opera and The Good Person of Szechuan, but Lysell says he wanted to explore the artist through his poems.

“Mostly we think of Brecht through his theatrical productions, but this time I thought we’d look at him through his poetry, with excerpts from plays, plus music and songs, to get a different feeling of who Brecht was and how he influenced theatre and performance style.”

Set in an old, rundown cabaret club, the performers – second-year Theatre students – use their proximity to the audience to engage in a conversation about war, the class struggle, how to act and even how to be an audience member.

“It takes the form of a cabaret, wherein audience members think they are entering one sort of venue, but are met with something unexpected: intellectually and politically charged performers who reveal the Brecht ideology and perspective through performance.”

Lysell promises high entertainment value, too.

“You get to see these second-year students – who are graduating soon – in their final production, showing off all their training. It’ll be fun to watch, and you’ll get a glimpse of one of the greatest theatrical personas of modern times.”

Brecht’s Kabaret runs March 4-12 at Douglas College Studio Theatre, 4140-700 Royal Ave., New Westminster. Tickets ($8-$15) are available from the Massey Theatre. For more information see Arts Events, call 604 527 5723 or click on the poster.