The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
The New Wimbledon Studio Theatre
6 - 10 June 2006
Fresh from their sell-out show, Stags & Hens, Carlton Dramatic Society present Brecht's savage and witty parable of Hitler's rise to power.
A chilling reminder that greed and complacency are all it takes for evil to thrive, The Resistible Rise to Arturo Ui chronicles a small-town gangster's takeover of the local green goods trade.
Comic and tragic, farcical and shocking, Brecht combines parodies of the well known theatrical archetypes, Mark Antony, Richard III and Faust with his anger and incomprehension at his country’s headlong decent into madness – Hitler's Third Reich.
Here's what a reviewer said about one production of the play:
Set amidst the economic turmoil of gangster-controlled Chicago in the 1930s, the play is a direct and thinly veiled attack on German apathy towards the threat of Hitler's rise to power, and a warning to future generations. Two years before Hitler's programmes of extermination, the dangers of his expansionist tendencies and his ruthless political ambition were already apparent to Brecht as he transposes Hitler's manipulation of the German and Austrian governments onto a gangster's attempts, via the running of a protection racket, to take over the cauliflower trade in the American cities of Chicago and nearby Cicero during the Depression. Initially dismissed as an uncouth upstart, the gangster Ui uses a mixture of violence, incendiary speech and mesmerizing rhetoric to further his mafia-like promotion of brotherhood and blood ties. Ui and his group of maniacal followers force their way into power, ruthlessly exterminating dissenters and critics and finally achieving support and recognition from the vegetable traders of Chicago and Cicero."
The play mixes high drama with black comedy, original music and song, and promises to be an epic production.
Brecht's parable play on Hitler's ascendancy was written during three short weeks in Finland at the height of the war in Europe in March 1941. The author was in exile awaiting permission to enter the United States. Each of the main characters is an allegorical representation of a historical character, so for example Givola the horticulturist represents Paul Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister for propaganda (see below). Hitler and his ministers are transformed into bunch of small time gangsters as they charm and threaten (alternatively and in equal measure) their way to political and military power. This transformation is the primary vehicle for Brecht's satire. Looking at the Third Reich as a criminal organization is both shocking and comic. It was also a brave act for Brecht to put a contemporary figure such as Hitler on the stage, especially given that at the time it was by no means certain that the Allies would be victorious; America was still six months from entering the war.
Brecht uses the Chicago setting populated by grim underworld characters in several of his plays, partly to create a sense of the exotic and fantastic, and partly to put a comforting distance between audience and characters; for the most part these plays are parables of Brecht's Berlin. They are also clearly redolent of those Hollywood gangster films of which Brecht was a fan, and which were so popular during and after prohibition in America. However, Brecht also considered giving ‘Arturo Ui’ a Roman setting and this belies another of his recurring themes, that of 'epic theatre' as demonstrated by the plays of the Elizabethans. Brecht clearly alludes to Shakespeare in several scenes, most notably in Scene 4 where Goodwill and Gaffles are obvious as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet. Scene 9a. where a woman is murdered is almost directly lifted from Julius Caesar, as are the large ensemble scenes in which Ui demonstrates his skills at rhetorical oration. There is even a ghost scene recalling both ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’.
Brecht's epic style would be unthinkable without the use of music .Indeed several of the scenes of ‘Arturo Ui’ were composed specifically with a musical setting in mind. Music therefore plays an important part in our production. The incidental music is almost exclusively taken from central works of the nineteenth century Austro-German tradition. There is operetta from The Merry Widow (incidentally Hitler's favourite show), ‘Die Fledermaus’; there is Schubert and Beethoven, Strauss, Wagner and Brahms. This, I believe, reinforces the historical parallels within the play without damaging Brecht's primary intent.
|Arturo Ui - Gang Leader||~||Matthew Petty|
|Ernesto Roma - Ui's Lieutenant||~||Rich Gladwell|
|Emanuelle Giri - a gansgter||~||Dave Eastman|
|Givola - the horticultural gangster||~||Kristen McGorry|
|Old Dogsborough||~||Mike Norman-Smith|
|Clark - a member of the Cauliflower Trust||~||Val Foskett|
|Flake - a member of the Cauliflower Trust, Betty Dullfeet - wife of Ignatius Dullfeet||~||Kirsty Collins|
|Butcher - a member of the Cauliflower Trust, Young Inna - Roma's familiar, A Woman, Vegetable Dealer, Gunperson||~||Katy Wey|
|Mulberry - a member of the Cauliflower Trust, Young Dogsborough, Bowl - Sheet's Accountant, Defendant Fish, Vegetable Dealer, Gunperson||~||Ali Bushell|
|Caruther - a member of the Cauliflower Trust, An Actor, The Prosecutor, Gunperson, Vegetable Dealer||~||Neil Kelly|
|Ignatius Dullfeet, Dogsborough's Butler||~||James Grayston|
|Ragg - a reporter on The Star, Hook - a vegetable dealer, Gunperson||~||Jason Rodericks|
|Gaffles - a member of the City Council, The Defence Counsel, Vegetable Dealer||~||Jane Richards|
|Goodwill - a member of the City Council, The Doctor, Vegetable Dealer||~||Jennifer Owusu-Akyaw|
|Sheet - a shipyard owner, O'Casey - an investigator, James Greenwool - a singing gunman||~||Matt Halfpenny|
|The Judge||~||Kathie Arundell|
|Dockdaisy, Vegetable Dealer||~||Louisa Court|
|Vegetable Dealer||~||Alison Raffan|
|Vegetable Dealer||~||Jo Forest-Jones|
|Stage Manager||~||Ellie Levy|
|Lighting / Sound||~||Simon Harris|
|Front of House||~||Ruth Brooks, Jane Lewis, Mehmet Izbudak,
Ian Ward, Julia Derbyshire, James Derbyshire,
Joanne Crabtree, Jethro Crabb
|Web Page||~||Matthew Petty|
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