The Michigan Daily
Thursday, November 5, 1987
By Jennifer Kohn
Ann Arbor's Brecht Company
brings to the stage not only
performances but provocative social
and political themes for its audience
to consider. Today marks the
opening of Embracing the Butcher,
a composite program including
Bertolt Brecht's The Measures Taken
and Heiner Miller's Mauser.
According to Bob Brown, director
of The Measures Taken and artistic
director of the company, the two
plays "constitute a modernist and
post-modernist debate of theatrical
technique and political ideology."
Brecht wrote The Measures Taken
in 1930, as an approach to the
struggle between the individual's
subjugation of emotions and the
needs of the community. Muller
then wrote Mauser in 1970 as his
response to the themes presented in
The Brechtian view of the power
of the theatre varies greatly from the
more familiar, current use of the
stage. Brecht suggested that the
Aristotlean theatre employs the
audience as an immature mob,
accessible only through their
predictable emotional weaknesses. In
contrast, Brecht evolved his theory
of Lehrstack, or the "learning play."
The audience is comprised of
mentally and emotionally mature
individuals who can make judgments
even while they are in the theatre.
Hereby Brechtian theatre forces self-
instruction on the part of the
audience. In addition, Brecht's plays
approach issues of political and
social depth.'He shows the world as
it changes and as it may be changed.
Herein lies the common theme
between these two plays: "Embrace
the Butcher, but change the world, it
needs it." The Measures Taken is
the antecedent and Mauser, the
consequent. Between the two plays,
each of which subscribes to the
Lehrstuck format, there is a contrast
in the means of communication
between the players. Brecht employs
retrospective narrative and epic
acting; Muller employs an almost
Becketian monologue technique.
The Measures Taken is a retro-
spective report by a group of
agitators who have been sent from
Moscow to China to enlighten the
ignorant, both oppressed and class
conscious. They must remain
anonymous in adherence with the
Party Doctrine as set forth by the
Control Chorus. When a con rade
reveals his identity, a violati '<f
Party Strategy, they are "fore
liquidate him. The play is, itseh,
agitators' presentation of the actions
leading to his death.
Muller is Brecht's heir in East
German Theatre. His Mauser
employs a chorus to represent the
"common good." The play is the
story of 'A.,' a killing machine who
suddenly refuses to kill. He is
therefore considered an enemy of the
revolution and subsequently "con-
vinced to die." Martin Walsh, the
play's director, suggests that the
action of the play might be
occurring "in the time between the
bullet being shot and entering A.'s
The Brecht Company's
productions not only offer some of
the finest theatrical talent in Ann
Arbor and thought provoking,
enduring themes, they offer the
viewer a forum for discussion.
Performances of Embracing the
Butcher will be followed by a series
of audience discussions in which
renowned guest critics and scholars
will participate. Guests include
University Professors Geoffrey Eley
and Fred Peters; Village Voice
Theatre Critic Alisa Solomon; Carl
Weber, translator of Mauser and a
former member of Brecht's own
company, The Berliner Ensemble;
Herbert Blau, a foremost practitioner
and theorist of American avant garde
theatre; and Walter Bilderback,
dramaturge with La Jolla Playhouse
and Center Stage, in Baltimore.
The musical accompaniment for
Mauser was composed and will be
performed by Geoffrey Stanton. He
has also rearranged the score for The
Measures Taken, which was
originally composed by Hans Eisler.
Stanton received a grant from the
Program. The production itself is
supported by a grant from the
International Goethe Institute.
The Brecht Company is the most
underrated theatre group in Ann
Arbor. While they are nationally
acclaimed and will be going on a
tour in February, including
performances of Embracing the
Butcher at Yale, they receive
relatively little attention locally.
Embracing the Butcher, the premier
pairing of Brecht's The Measures
Taken and Muller's Mauser, may be
the most thought provoking and
perhaps the highest quality
presentation on the Ann Arbor stage
EMBRACING THE BUTCHER
opens tonight at 8 p.m. at the Resi-
dential College Auditorium in East
Quad. Tonight's performance is a
preview; regular performances will
be tomorrow night and Saturday at 8
p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Performances will run the following
weekend, as well as the weekend of
November 20th. Call the Residential
College for further details at 763-
lost among split personalities
By Lisa Pollak
I liked it.
I didn't like it.
I did like it.
Confused? Annoyed? Frustrated? I
hope so. Now you know what I felt
like after I saw The Hidden, the new
"suspense, drama, sci-fi, and humor"
film directed by Jack Sholder. I liked
it. And I didn't.
Which, of course, gets y ou
nowhere. Film critics are supposed
to know their own minds, tastes, and
identities. There's a good word for
people who don't -
The Hidden is a schizophrenic
movie. It has more personalities
than Sybil, more faces than Eve, and
elicits more emotions than all of the
other fall releases combined.
Remember, schizophrenics are never
boring. But would you pay $4.50 to
listen to one?
First listen to this: The Hidden
is about two cops trying to solve a
string of bizarre murders in Los
Angeles. The culprit is a giant squid-
like alien who repeatedly assumes
the bodies of dead humans and uses
them as tools to wreck havoc across
town. Officer Tom Beck's partner,
F.B.I. agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle
MacLachlan) is the good-guy version
of the alien, disguised as a human to
destroy the squid-thing as it crawls
from body to body.
It sounds simple, but it's not.
Now listen to what the audience
(arguably schizo themselves) shouted
during the screening: "It's just like
Robocop !" "It's just like Starman
!" "It's just like The Terminator !"
"It's just like E.T. !"
They were right. And, yes, they
were wrong, too.
The Hidden, a cinematic schizo-
phrenic, is a movie-goer's
Disneyland. It is an all-you-can-eat
smorgasbord of the above list of
movies - but better acted, more
cleanly finished, more carefully
written. It is car chases and L.A. and
gooey squids and macabre humor and
sensitive cops and sincerity and cute
alien humor and violence, in every
bullet-ridden, bloody, sadistic sense
of the word.
I liked it. I liked being convinced
that aliens exist. I liked
MacLachlan's endearing alien. I liked
watching the alien-possessed
business man grab a jam box, jump
into a Ferrari, and run down
Fridays in The Daily
we want is usually too much.
And I didn't like it.
This movie couldn't make up its
mind. I would be liking the sincerity
and then - whammo - it would
turn to violence. I'd be liking the
violence and then - whammo - it
would turn to humor. I'd be liking
the humor and then - well, you get
the idea. And I didn't like it.
The Hidden has a textbook case
of schizophrenia: a major identity
crisis and an inconsistent nature. But
my judgment remains: I liked it.
And I didn't. I'm inclined to leave it
at that. After all, if the movie
couldn't make up its mind, why
Kyle MacLachlan plays the mysterious FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher in the
new movie 'The Hidden.'
The University of Michigan
SCHOOL OF MUSIC
Don Juan by Moliere
John Russell Brown, director
Tickets $12.50-$6, students $4.
University Choir and Organ
Theodore Morrison, conductor,
James Kibbie, organist
Zoltan Kodaly: Missa Brevis
Petr Eben: Sunday Music
Hill Auditorium, 8:00 p:m. FREE.
Javanese Gamelan Ensemble/
Japanese Music Study Group
A JointConcert of Traditional Music
from the East
Rackham Auditorium, 8:00 p.m. FREE.
pedestrians as he lived out all of our
most anti-social fantasies.
But The Hidden, like all
schizophrenics, is something else,
still. It is Disneyland at the end of
the day, when the garbage-strewn
grounds are a pitiful reminder of the
day's excesses and indulgences. It is
no surprise that The Hidden's
conclusion disinegrates under the
weight of Sholder's effort to give us
everything. But we feel disillusioned
because the end isn't as good as the
beginning, and because everything
8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
2nd floor, Wedge Room
Thru Nov. 6
Men's & Women's Contemporary Clothing
FINAL 3 DAYS
All denim mini skirts 40% off
Wu - on East Liberty between 4th & 5th
For up-to-date program information on School of Music
events call the 24-Hour Music Hotline, 763-4726
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