the berliner ensemble

Helene Weigel [wife of Bertolt Brecht] took you on board the Berliner Ensemble in 1962. And you wanted to play the title role in the musical Hello, Dolly at the Metropol Theatre alongside this engagement . How did Weigel react?

Gisela May: Dolly was a dream role, which I absolutely wanted to play as well [as acting in the Berliner Ensemble]. When Weigel heard that, she sprang up, in the impulsive way that she could be, and said: ‘That is absolutely not in question.’ But then she began to grin. ‘Do it!’ I valued Helene Weigel as an artist.

An interaction between Helene Weigel and Gisela May about Hello, Dolly isn’t something I ever expected to come across.

dlsknows  asked:

Least (successfully) brectian production of a Brecht show?

you ask as if i don’t live in the provinces and get my brechtian news three months after the fact through letters from the capital

um brecht himself wasn’t great at being brechtian. he had staging techniques to distance the audience that he used again and again with the berliner ensemble, but a lot of them seem more extreme than how brecht shows tend to be staged today (things like leaving lights on in the theatre throughout the entire show.) but not doing these things doesn’t necessarily mean that a show isn’t successfully brechtian? and you can do these things in a non-brechtian show like evita and still elicit emotional response.

but even if you’re judging by whether or not it elicits emotion umm… like even if a brecht show is directed ineptly, there’s a certain amount of brechtian-ness in the text that will stop you from crying all night long.* so it’s hard to judge how successfully brechtian a show is without being there and saying that you were moved to tears by the caucasian chalk circle or whatever. and also there are a lot of major brecht productions that aren’t necessarily very brechtian in their staging. and also brechtian is such a vague term. you can apply it to basically anything that isn’t melodrama. you could call family guy brechtian if you were an idiot and it would still make sense. so in conclusion, i don’t know.

*this reminds me of a story lotte lenya told about when she was starring off-broadway in the threepenny opera. at one point in the run, marlene dietrich came to see the show. afterwards, in lenya’s dressing room, and with perfect make-up, marlene hugged lenya and exclaimed “darling! i cried all night!”