Hi Tumblr, I know it’s been a long time, but I wanted to tell you about Robert Wilson’s production of The Threepenny Opera, at BAM:
“The play has a double nature,” Brecht said during a Stockholm lecture in 1939, adding: “Instruction and entertainment conflict openly.”
The glacial pacing and ritualized, slo-mo gesturing that are by now familiar tics of Wilson’s stagecraft have rarely seemed as justified or as purposeful as they do here, where they stretch Brecht’s conflict over a span of time that runs twice as long as any Threepenny recording on C.D.
When Macheath heads for the gallows, it takes forever—as does the satiric reprieve Brecht provides for Mac at the hands of the Mounted Messenger. But precisely because it all takes place in Wilson time, the audience is given enough space to recall the recent, Twitter-chronicled delay during which Troy Davis’ life seemed potentially rescuable. The effect of a life in the balance, so cheaply observed (and then shruggingly accepted), feels radical once again—and fully stripped of several decades’ worth of Roaring Twenties/Weimar nostalgia. Per Brecht’s theory of alienation, we don’t feel empathy for the characters in the drama, but rather for the inconsistent presence of justice in our own world—and a fate we still hope to improve through our collective begging.