University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Rehearsing Failure — The Brechtian Moment

Lisa Channer, Theater Arts and Dance; Matthias Rothe, German Scandinavian and Dutch

In taking our previous collaborative “Rehearsing Failure: Brecht’s America” as a point of departure, we will, on the one hand, continue to work on Brecht’s early drama fragments, and on the other, explore the Brechtian legacy in contemporary theater and film. Of central importance to us is the inquiry into theater’s possibility to politically intervene and to provide a unique perspective that can rival hegemonic forms of knowledge. The fragments in question (e.g. Dan Drew, Jae Fleischhacker or the Bread Shop) share a number of characteristics: they were written in the 1920s, they responded to profound financial turmoil in Germany and they all depict economic practices such as commodity futures speculation. They are attempts to (critically) represent the un-representable, namely society, whereas with contemporary political theater and film such representation seems to be no longer at stake. Brechtian theater seems to have turned into a method of undoing and reconfiguring existing representations. Thus our collaborative ultimately focuses on the opposite extreme or breaking points of “Brechtianism”.

Calendar of activities

  • September through December: Research Workshop Expanded Theater (for faculty and graduate students; open to the public). See description and schedule
  • October: Three presentations in the Theater Lab class at the Department of Theater Arts & Dance on “Staging Capitalism”, Brecht’s Threepenny Opera and novel, Mahagonny and Saint Joan of the Stockyards
  • January: Rehearsal and stage reading of a selection from Brecht’s early ‘economic’ drama fragments with actors from Theater Novi Most
  • February 3: Symposium/panel discussion on Brecht and Weill in the context of the Kurt Weill festival organized by Theater Arts & Dance and the School of Music
  • February 4: IAS Thursdays at Four on “Brechtian Legacies: Expanded Theater
  • March 25 Staged Reading of extracts from two Brecht play-fragments: Fatzer/Savannah

brecht description