Theater of War
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins
File Size 1000mb
This is pasted from the wiki:
Director John Walter’s 2008 documentary film Theater of War uses the rehearsal process of a play
production as a lens through which to investigate German playwright Bertolt Brecht's ideas on
theater, politics, and war. The chosen production is a 2006 staging of "Mother Courage and Her
Children," a play that Tony Kushner calls the greatest of the 20th century. Staged by the Public
Theater in New York's Central Park, the production starred Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, and was
helmed by George C. Wolfe. Theater of War provides unprecedented access to the work process of
some of the greatest actors of our time, as they struggle to convey Brecht's political and
artistic insights. In parallel, the film considers the three wars that ground the Central Park
production: the Thirty Years War that forms the setting for "Mother Courage"; the World War II
context in which Brecht wrote the play, while in exile from Nazi Germany; and the current day
Iraq war, which inspired Streep and her collaborators to stage the piece.
The film plumbs the many elements of preparing a stage production. Theater of War includes
interviews with the composer of a new musical score, Tony nominee Jeanine Tesori, as well as
with costume designer Marina Draghici, and the myriad artisans and prop creators who support the
production behind the scenes. The play’s director, George C. Wolfe, discusses his own
motivations and intentions for the piece, while playwright Tony Kushner describes his lifelong
admiration for Brecht and his struggle to create a new translation of the playbook for this
production. Oskar Eustis, the Creative Director of the Public Theater also chimes in, sharing
how Brecht’s political commitment informed his writing, and how these works can inspire change
in America’s social context today.
Brecht’s own remarkable biography provides insight into the play’s themes – the devastating
impact of war on ordinary people and the futility of individual vs. collective action. Theater
of War follows Brecht’s journey through interviews with scholars and surviving witnesses,
including novelist Jay Cantor, Brecht’s assistant director Carl Weber, and Brecht’s daughter
Barbara Brecht-Schall. These interviews, in combination with archival films, photographs, and
original materials from the Bertolt Brecht Archiv in Berlin, create a rich collage portrait of
the man and his creative work. A prodigy who won Germany’s top literature prize at the age of
24, Brecht’s fortunes took a turn for the worse when Hitler came to power. As a Marxist and
political dissident who was married to the Jewish actress Helene Weigel, Brecht was forced into
exile in 1933 and stripped of his German citizenship. The Brecht-Weigel family then moved from
Berlin to Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and finally Santa Monica, California, where he was subject
to FBI surveillance as an “Enemy Alien” and a suspected Communist agitator. The House
Un-American Activities Committee interrogated Brecht in 1947 on the same day that it called the
Hollywood Ten, which spurred Brecht to return to Europe, where he settled in East Berlin. There,
in the capital of the Nazis, Helene Weigel presented “Mother Courage” in 1949, only four years
after the end of the Third Reich, in a city that was still in rubble.
Weaving the histories of these three wars together with Brecht’s own biography and the story of
the Mother Courage production, Theater of War challenges audiences to think about the real
impact of war, and how one might resist the drive to war through political action and art. For
as Brecht noted in his commentary on “Mother Courage,” “No effort is too great in the struggle
Theater of War is distributed on DVD by Alive Mind in North America. In 2008 it was featured at
the Tribeca, Rome, Provincetown, Silverdocs, Seattle, Williamstown, and Traverse City film
festivals. It has screened at art house theaters around the United States, including a run at
New York's famed Film Forum, where Ronnie Scheib of Variety and Manohla Dargis of the New York
Times gave it rave reviews.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theater_of_War_(film)"
My notes: Encourage your high schools and universities to add this to their collection. The
DVD version includes commentary by the director and filmmaker Michael Moore.
In no way is this a "star vehicle" about Meryl Steep but puts the film in the immediate
context of the current war and biographical information about Bert Brecht.
October 25, 2010
Oct 25, 2010, 04:33:34
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