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September 20, 1964 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1964-09-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

mWar and Peace" Starts APA.

The American premiere of "War and Peace" will open the fall
festival of the Professional Theatre Program, Sept. 23 in Lydia
Mendelssohn Theatre.
Rosemary Harris, Keene Curtis, Ronald Bishop, and Jennifer
Harmon of the Association of Producing Artists, the resident company,
will star. The production is directed by Ellis Rabb. Peter Wexler, the
designer, has utilized the Epic Theatre style, created by Erwin
Piscator, whose version of the Tolstoy novel is being staged here,
which combines slide projections, special film techniques and move-
able platforms. This- will give the play fluidity while encompassing
the enormous scope of the Napoleonic Wars.
Brendan Behan's "The Hostage," also shown below in rehearsal,
Giraudoux's "Judith" and "Man and Superman" by G. B. Shaw will
be the other presentations in the fall festival.
The following analysis of "War and Peace" was taken directly
from a talk given by Ellis Rabb to the members of the APA.

"WAR AND PEACE is, as you
know, a novel by Leo Tolstoy. The
play we are now going to rehearse
is by Erwin Piscator. It, too, is
called 'War and Peace' because
Mr. Piscator based the play on
the novel. You might say the
novel inspired the play. You could
say, as Piscator says, the play is
"after" the novel. You might say
that the novel suggested the play.
"Say anything-but don't say-
don't think-we are about to do
the novel on the stage.
"That would not be possible and
Piscator did not attempt any such
folly. He wanted to use the novel
as the basis of an ironic thesis.
"The novel has retained its sig-
nificance through the force of
Tolstoy's art and the profundity of
his humanity. But Piscator is try-
ing toI point out that Tolstoy's
history and his subject were of
a time when war could be fought
for an ideal, a cause, as 'a solu-
tion for human contradictions.'
Such wars were romantic by na-
ture in spite of all their horror.
** *
"WHEN WE DID the Whitman
play in Ann Arbor ("We, Com-
rades Three"), I remember Bald-
ridge pointing out that the Civil;

derstanding of his experience-of
his ability to grow through exper-
ience-of his desire to 'be better.'
"Thus Piscator says of Tol-
stoy's novel, let it be an inspira-
tion-but let it be a warning. The
double-edge of his sword is to
embrace the inspirational force
of its 19th century message in
the ironic light of the awesome
power of 20th century facts.
"So--our major task is to 'tell
the story' and to capture the scope
and dimension of that epic form.
"THE MEANING of the story is
dramatized in its parallel and con-
current characteristic develop-
ments and conflicts.
"Throughout, a dramatic par-
allel exists in our relationship to
the war and peace within each
individual, the war and peace ir
their personal relations with each
other, the war and peace between
leaders of the nations, the war
and peace between the direction
of that leadership and the will
of the individual, the war and
peace between whole countries with
each other.
"Piscator has employed three
basic techniques.
"1) The fundamentally realistic
scene,
"2) The capsule sequence, and
"3) The suggestive segments
(expressionism).
"Sections are often made up of
contributions from these methods.
All three must be approached and
acted out from the point of view
of realistic-thoughtful-specific
inner motivation. However in each
we must employ a different set
of rules governing our selectivity.
"THE EXPRESSIONISTIC form
finds its origin in the work of
such earlier German writers as
Eranst Toller and George Keiser.
in such plays as 'Masse Mensch'
and 'Gas,' and in the American
theatre in such plays as 'Beggar
on Horse-Back' and most promi-
nently and popularly in the mu-
sical comedy the dream ballets ir
'Carousel' and 'Oklahoma,' or the
great fight sequence in 'West Sid
Story.'
"In our production, the entirc
company will dance or pantomim
the retreat from Moscow. You-will
do things 'in character' but as ex-
pressed by dancers or mimes as
well as actors.
"With this play we have a sub-
stantial challenge and a great op-
portunity. The novel 'War and
Peace' is a masterpiece - so we
should not lack for a source of
inspiration.
* *
"PISCATOR IS a very clever
man-a revolutionary and an in-
novator. His life is filled with
imagination, originality and pur-
pose.
"The productions of this play
in West Germany at the Schiller
Theatre and in England at the Old
Vic have been enormously success-
ful. The Piscator-Brecht theatre
was, and is, truly an actor's thea-
tre-the text is a basis for the
actor's invention. Finally, the text
is like a good scenario-or a good
libretto.
"The success of the play de-
pends on how excitingly we bring
it to life-how well we make it-
how well we dance or sing it, how
we shape it, coordinate it, balance
it.

Jennifer Harman is seen as Lisa in the APA's "Ware;and Peace," from the novel by Tolstoy.

(l

.k

II
DIRECTOR ELLIS RABB
War was the last of the major
romantic wars. The last that
would ever; or could ever, be
fought. Henceforth mankind can
only fight purely for survival-
if we fight at all. The irony being
that the fight itself will destroy
any possibility of survival.
"Therefore Piscator's sword is
double-edged. He has tried to
suggest, to imply, the glory of
the novel-the scope, grandeur
and terror. But' by the end, Pis-
cator reminds us boldly that while
the will to live has compelled us
to survive conflict in the past-
now the day has come when even
greater understanding can no
longer comfort the survivors-for
if there is another war there prob-
ably will be no survivors to learn
by it.
"WARS WERE NEVER glorious,
in themselves but in man's sur-
vival of them there was a positivej
value, a glory. The atomic war
heralds the end of such glories.
"But new glories born by thel
same survival instinct must be
ours. Tolstoy believed in man'sl
ability to struggle towards greater
and greater understanding. His
novel is a living testimony of
man's yearning for greater un-

IJ

Cutlines by
Gail Blumberg

Keene Curtis as Napoleon confronts Pierre played by Ronald
Bishop in the American Premiere of "War and Peace."

1

James Graf, PTP resident staff technician, adjusts special, light equipment for the production of
"War and Peace."

IA

"The play is more than ever
not on these pages but in us."

M IR::j 11

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