Monday, March 26, 2012

It is an event worth noting,  Prop Thtr's 31st Season and our production of "drumming in the night" by Bertolt Brecht.  Not only another in our own long series of plays by Brecht, starting with Puntila and Matti, his Hired Man in 1981, "The Exception And The Rule" in 1982 and, again, in 1987, "Beggar or the Dead Dog" in 1983 and, again, in 2004, "Demise of the Egoist, Johann Fatzer" (in the world premiere of the English Translation) in 1996 and "Saint Joan of the Stockyards" and "Baal" ( at Trapdoor) in 2001; this year's choice in production follows upon a year of inspiring Chicago highly qualified theatermakers taking on their versions of early Brecht plays:  "The Wedding" by Tuta and "In The Jungle of the Cities" by Ka Tet to name just two  - inspired us to plumb further the early works of the author, long before a theory was formed, in the heat of practice... produce now the very first play Brecht ever had produced... it is inspiring to have a local context, though it be underrated by this day's scriveners, as well as by its own, that is of highest quality.

Lesson to playwrights!:  this "first play" (it actually is not by any means the first play, it is the first produced) got a chance because the wife of the director, to whom a mentor of Brecht's had given the manuscript, was sick at home and had lost her magazine.  She picked up what happened to be atop the neglected heap and was transfixed, talking her husband into reading it.  In this way,  one of the important playwrights of the 20th century was launched...

"drumming in the night" was originally titled "Spartakus" and was written in the thick of collapse following world war one and the political chaos which the collapse of the monarchy, the struggle between different factions of Business and the inspired working class who saw the events in newly Soviet Russia.  It is written out of seeing the grotesque sideshow which cultural and social behavior perform in times of extreme stress.

A soldier, Andrew Kragler, returns in a time of crumbling employment - when returning is already betrayal.  He claims only to have escaped defeat and imprisonment and being stationed in African colonies,  because of his love of his Anna, who has been otherwise engaged and is now pregnant, and promised, to another - father's associate at the erstwhile munitions container factory,  postwar retooling for baby buggies...the chaos outside always threatens to rudely interrupt this private grotesque with a larger social eruption, the collapse of which is equally grotesque.  Ideals wake up homeless, when the fabric of decency and peace are torn, heroics make victims like a factory grinding out sausage.

Nick Leininger plays Andrew Kragler as a spiritual PTSD zombie brought to ignoble life and judged fit for duty, by the authorities. Arin Mulvaney plays Anna Balicke, his beloved, who has been bartered away by family, astonished at what has become of her men, and what she now wants and does not, in the new circumstance.  Through a single night, we follow their re-acquaintance amidst popular explosion.  As her parents, (Don Schroeder as Karl Balicke and Karin Fort as Emily Balicke)and her betrothed (Joe Bunke as Frederic Murk) panic, at the unraveling of their deal, a new gust of wind draws us to the news district, where uprising is fomented, again, but for all time.

This wind, which somehow succeeds in tugging Anna to chase after the forlorn soldier, also pulls him into a revolutionary company, who need him to lead, to succeed. He must choose.  Whether -  to heroically continue fighting, this time against the authorities who had sent him into industrially punishing war - or to take the girl, now with that baby, and retire to bed, hands over his head. 

Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm and on Sunday afternoon at 3pm, please come see this disorder of a comedy, our five scenes adapted from many brecht versions into one, for here at Prop Thtr and now in America, with its nearness to, and for the distance from, our time. 

In respect to our time:  our tickets are suggested $15 but at the door we take "pay what you can".  We join a significant number of other theaters, of recent years here in Chicago, who follow a similar ticket policy.  As an Illinois Not For Profit (501C3) Corporation, we feel that in this time no one should miss a performance for lack of the means to do so.  We also remind our audience that there is no more immediate investment into our work, than buying tickets in advance

Either way, ahead of time or at our door on the spur of the moment, please come visit this wonderful play that is dedicated above all to the Theater of Chicago,  it plays through April.  Please don't miss it.

Follow here,  for further bloggage about the others in this 14 Performer show, about our show experiences, about the singular work of the show's composer Edward Reardon (who composed Legend of the Dead Soldier and Marie She Sat Upon A Stone" for our "drumming...". ), of Diane Hamm's costumes of the period and set dressing details, and about further arcane Brecht and historical background, about Rosa Luxemburg, as the run progresses.  Photos of course of course...

This is the stage, five days before we opened!  (wait till you see what became...)

and here an early photo, as we were still rehearsing, by Chicago's wonderful Johnny Knight

So... come see the show, and watch here as our run unfolds.  Weekly blog updates!  Thank-you for having a look...Stefan G. Brün.