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Book Reviews JOHN FUEGI. BertolI Brecht: Chaos According to Plan. New York: Cambridge University Press 1987. pp. XIV. 223. illustrated. $39·50; $I2.95(PB). PIA KLEBER. Exceptions and Rules: Brecht, Planchon and "The Good Person of Szechwan." New York: Peter Lang 1987. Pp. 334. illustrated. Thirty years after the death of Bertolt Brecht the interest in his work as playwright and director has not flagged. In these thoroughly political times on awar-tom planet Brecht's ambivalences, his Wandering Jew. and his kind of tight-rope-walker existence all seem emblematic of our modem era. Two new books on Brecht the director and on Brecht's influence on Roger Planchon testify to this increasing awareness. These two thoroughly researched studies complement one another and are a must for every BrechtophiJe, and every student of contemporary drama. A seasoned Brecht scholar, the editor of Brecht HeutelBrecht Today, the Yearbook of the International Brecht Society, John Fuegi has charted Brecht's day~to·day activity as a theatre director from the early days ofhis scandalous Baal (1923) to the last rehearsals of Galileo (1956) which the Berlin Ensemble was to talce to London. Pia Kleber picks up where Fuegi's book stops. Brecht never had a chance to direct his Good Person of Szechwan but enough material was left for Benno Besson's production of 1957. Above all, Exceptions and Rules is a clearly focused study of Brecht's influence upon the French director and playwright Roger Planchon. the administrator of the T.N.P. (Theatre National Populaire) at Villeurbanne. a suburb of Lyons. The ways in which Planchon's political and social concerns affected his dramaturgic development are carefully traced through the evolution of his three stagings of The Good Person (July 1954. October 1954. December 1958). Between the second and the third production. Planchon had a lengthy and decisive meeting with Brecht. Thus, comparisons and contrasts are established by Dr. Kleber between Besson's Berliner production and Planchon's final staging of the play at the Theatre de la Cite. Book Reviews Important new material for both studies comes from the archives of the Berliner Ensemble and from personal interviews carried out by both scholars. John Fuegi spoke to Helene Weigel, Brecht's widow and the administrator of the Berliner Ensemble, to Angelika HUlwicz. the actress taken from Julius Hay's Haben to become Kattrin in the 1949 Mother Courage, and Grusche in the ]953- 4 The Caucasian Chalk Circle, to Elisabeth Hauptmann, Brecht's collaborator and assistant, and to Hans Bunge. Pia Kleber read 32 newspaper reviews of the Besson mise en scene. studied Karl Von Appen's designs, numerous production photographs, and the unpUblished Modellbuch. She interviewed Ekkehard SchaU, who played Sun in the Besson production, and the stage designer Friedrich Dieckmann. Although the T,N,P. has little archival materialthe reason being that Planchon believes stage art to be evanescent - Dr. KJeber was able to reconsbUct various phases ofthe three productions by discussing them with members of the T.N.P.: the dramaturg Michel Bataillon, the administrator Madeleine Sarrazin, the painter-designer Rene Allio; the actress/costume designer Isabelle Sadoyan, and a number of actors. What is perhaps essential for a proper appreciation of Dr. Kleber's study is to know that she started her professional life in Europe as a costume designer. Therefore, the technical expertise she brings to her detailed and very revealing discussion of the props, sets, costumes, and lighting used by Besson and Planchon is invaluable for students of stage craft. In addition to a fme literary sense and a historical perspective, Pia Kleber's specialized knowledge lends subtlety and depth to her analysis of Brecht's theory and praxis, and to Planchon's evolving fidelity to both. Both studies transcend their goals, emerging as treatises in comparative literature and comparative theatre. John Fuegi's original and sound use of the "hobby horse theory of mimesis" (p. 30) fonnulated by the aesthetician E.H. Gombrich in his essay "Meditations on a Hobby Horse," goes a long way towards an investigation of the controversial V-Effect. Although Fuegi says that he has no proof that Brecht was familiar with Gombrich, the reading of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 459-462
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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