Piscator, Pinter, Politics

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I’m currently looking at “Epic Traditions” in my module and have been reading about Piscator and his theatre work.

It’s been fascinating to read of his use of film in theatre productions and the innovations he made with staging his productions. Not just artistically but also politically.

His fearlessness in challenging the political and social situations present in the Weimar Republic, is to be commended. When he was had up for defamation of the ex-Kaiser and had to cut a scene from his production, he just had the court’s injunction read in place of the Kaiser’s lines. It’s that kind of wit and refusal to give in, I admire so much in his work.

I’m particularly struck by his thought that

“what emerged was that the most effective political propaganda lay along the same lines as the highest artistic form”

Theatre can and does speak to people, and change people’s thoughts/feelings. Just because a piece of theatre is “political” doesn’t mean it can’t have artistic value or merit.

Later on last night I was reading the book “Theatre in a Cool Climate” and the interview with Harold Pinter that is in this book and found that linked in so well. The interviewer Colin Chambers observed that;

“It’s a very British perception: if they can see the politics, they believe it can’t be any good as drama.”

Yet so much good drama is political. When I was doing my Shakespeare module I was suprised at how political Shakespeare’s work was, and how surprised I was he wasn’t put in the Tower for some of his work as some of his contemporary playwrights were.

We’re in for a political “change” this year in the UK with a general election. How will the theatre in the UK respond before and after? We’ll have to see.

Finally back to Piscator;

“The theatre as a home of the nation’s conscience, the stage as the moral institution of the century, this should be the image of the theatre.”


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