Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Berliners' Rise and Fall 

Wednesday, Jun 30 1999
One thing the pre-reunification government did right in East Germany was fund the arts it favored. For instance, the Berliner Ensemble performed in a beautiful old East Berlin theater 50 years after Bertolt Brecht founded the company in 1949, and enjoyed lavish government subsidies for long-rehearsed productions of the satirical master's plays. Now the troupe will visit America for the first time to stage a few performances of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui before it essentially disbands.

Resistible Rise was Brecht's allegory of Hitler's rise to power, told in terms of a Chicago gangster taking over a cauliflower distribution ring. Brecht was living in Santa Monica when he wrote it, and his idea was to show American audiences how fascism could fester in their native soil. The Berliner Ensemble's current version, staged by the late Heiner MYller, is famous across Europe as one of the company's most successful productions. MYller himself had a formidable reputation as a playwright, but he died in 1995, and no other major director has been found to maintain the Ensemble's Brechtian tradition: Europe's old left, it seems, is vanishing. In August, a new director with different ideas will take the helm, and although he'll keep the Ensemble name, he won't further its mission of performing Brecht's plays, and most of the actors will leave. Rise begins at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $24-45; call (510) 642-9988.

-- Michael Scott Moore


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"