BRECHT IN PRACTICE
The Politics Of The Production

The whole point of taking a Brechtian approach to staging Closer was to expose a politics that would remain either submerged or unrecognizable in a more conventional production of the play. In order to understand the political dimensions of Closer, it’s necessary to understand what we meant by ‘politics’ in the first place.

‘Political theatre’ often means theatre with a political theme. Politics in a Brechtian context suggests something broader. Aristotle’s proposal in the Nicomachean Ethics that politics may be considered ‘the philosophy of human affairs’ is a useful way of understanding the political in everyday life. That is, politics articulates what we can and can’t do, what’s allowed, what’s prohibited, and what inhabits the grey zones and blind spots of a society. Brechtian theatre isn’t so much about making political theatre, but making theatre politically in that it exposes the ways society either condones or forbids certain actions. A picture of a society then emerges that can lead an audience to question why the action on stage happens as it does and how things might be changed.

This production of Closer thus sought to make the socially focused behaviours of the four figures clear. This started by determining their social statuses and using them as a basis to understand the ways the figures related to each other. This social rather than psychological starting point helped the production highlight interpersonal interactions not as a problem for the individuals, but as ones for the wider social context.

The four figures in Closer embody a profound sense of individualism that trumps mutual respect or care for others. The production wanted to make these behaviours and associated opinions clear as a way of inviting the audience to question these ways of viewing oneself and treating other people. The reasons for these behaviours remained implicit, however, and the audience was encouraged to connect the historical setting to the speeches and actions onstage.

 


BRECHT IN PRACTICE - Copyright 2017 © Prof. David Barnett | All Rights Reserved

David Barnett
Professor of Theatre
University of York

Back