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BAAL - by Bertolt Brecht

Five directors and forty actors

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BAAL - by Bertolt Brecht


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Murdoch University in collaboration with Edith Cowan University’s Contemporary Performance course presents Bertolt Brecht’s Baal - a visually stunning and unorthodox interpretation of the text that brings Brecht’s epic theatre into the 21st Century. Baal was Brecht’s first full-length play; written at the age of twenty, before his Marxist views, it exudes raw anarchistic energy. The morally ambiguous nature of the central character (Baal – a poet and a song writer) is played out along side the questionable motives of the people that surround him, highlighting our fascination and vicarious need for people who live outside the social and moral confides of our society.
Brecht’s argument seems to be that in a society, which is dominated by class, it is impossible to maintain an absolute individual moral code: ethics depends on what face you are dealing with, or presenting to the world.
Baal follows the central character’s fall from the dizzy heights of fame, to the seemingly futile and tragic scene of his death – reminding us of such people as Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, Billy Holliday, Kurt Cobain and more recently Amy Winehouse.

This production of Baal was devised and rehearsed as four parts - with each part maintaining the narrative structure but employing a distinctively different aesthetic – and then, finally, reassembled. The production, led by Dr Serge Tampalini of Murdoch University and Dr Ralf Rauker,  of Contemporary Performance at ECU, is assembled from the contributions of over 40 actors. Cautious of the traditional reverence normally afforded Brecht’s work, the actors have devised and rehearsed Baal in a way that has enabled the visions of five directors to be presented seamlessly. Melissa Merchant, Tim Brain, Mikala Westall, Serge Tampalini and Ralf Rauker will each direct a section of the play.

I would like to say, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all the Murdoch students and staff, how enjoyable and exciting this Murdoch and ECU collaboration has been; a collaboration as liberating and historic as those other great moments of freedom: the fall of the Berlin wall, the civil rights marches, the walk to liberty of Mandela and when Mark Harvey was finally granted release from the Dockers. [Serge]

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