DURATION: 4 WEEKS
To put on a play based on the life on the German Playwright Bertolt Brecht and also to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth Brecht`s main composer Kurt Weill.
These 2 artists lived through some of the most disturbing and difficult times of the 20th century and their work takes in the rigueur of German Expressionism, the rise of the cinema, the period of `degenerate` art, the growth of fascism, the horrors of war, the energy of America, the rise of Berlin from the ashes of defeat, the founding of the Berliner Ensemble, the first workers` rebellion against communism and the major productions of some of the greatest plays of the 20th century.
Brecht was one of the most influential writers, critic and theorist that the 20th century produced, but what is not known is that he was also known as a profound poet. A Fistful of Brecht uses his poems to document history. The director wanted the images to be related to the artists of this period, George Grosz and Otto Dix, again research was imperative. George Grosz and Otto Dix painted from the life that surrounded them, their work was very expressionistic. The jobs we undertook were props, costumes and sets, collaborating with other members of the team on their areas, during weekly group sessions to discuss the progression and decide upon the style, so that continuity remained throughout the production.
From the work of Otto Dix and George Grosz, we produced conceptual designs for masks, props, sets and costumes. taking notice of the style, period and characteristics. It was an experiment to try to work in the masks to portray certain characters, the priest, the archbishop, prostitutes and numerous other characters. The idea of the mask was for the actors was to play multiple roles in quick succession and be used in an expressionistic way.
Props were produced from materials found in the university skips and were creatively built into props needed as we were on a very tight budget. Other props were bought from local carboots and second hand charity shops. This proved to be a challenge that sparked ingenuity, as we also found items that people no longer wanted. These were scrounged from the aftermath from a large carboot, an example of this was 2 old brown leather suitcases, white sheets that were transformed into the popes robes and hat and three boxes of small glass vases, were distressed and were used on the tables as candles holders for the cafe setting. Various other materials and oddments were used that had been left behind.
The whole project could have been different if the time so an had been shorter, then mime could have replaced props, costumes could have been replaced with cardboard cutouts and if the production had been played outside then there would have been no need for a scenic backdrop. If the budget had been bigger then more professional costumes could have been hired, as well as more elaborate props and a change of scenery.
Overall, as a team everyone worked well together. Much knowledge has been gained by this production and could be put to further use on future productions. On the night of the performance it was a packed house with a well entertained audience who were begging for more.
"TO BE, OR NOT TO BE"
Hans Hess; George Grosz
John Willet; Brecht on Theatre
Stephen Badges; DDay from Normandy Beaches to the Liberation of France
Andrew Mollo & Pierre Turner; Army Uniforms of World War 1
Gean-Louis Besson; Uniform through the Ages
Joost Holscher; 1920`s fashion design
C Willet & Phillis Cunnington; A Picture History of Costume
German Expressionism (VIDEO)
Otto Dix (VIDEO)
Other reference material supplied by Dr. Eric Northey