Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend the first read-through by the cast of our forthcoming co-production (with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres) of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’, coming to the Playhouse in October. As someone new (in professional terms) to theatre, it was fascinating and moving to witness the very beginning of the process which will culminate in performances of this dramatic and eternally-relevant play in just a few weeks. I could feel the excitement, the nervousness and the sense of everyone embarking on a journey together. Before the read-through, the director Walter Meierjohann gave an eloquent introduction to the play, his thoughts on how they will approach it, and he also gently set the cast and production team up for the intensity of the process they will now share together.
At face value, the play is a parable, set in the context of 1930s gangster-ridden Chicago, of Hitler’s rise to power, and it asks us, the audience, a very simple question; how could Arturo/Hitler have been resisted (it is not called “The resistible rise…’ for nothing)? But the genius of the play is its grotesque mix of tragedy and comedy, and its timelessness; as the read-through unfolded, with corrupt leaders, violent extortion, a weak economy, a failing father and his pathetic son, dodgy media practice and personal morality being tested in every scene, it was impossible not to be reminded of Libyan rebels searching for Gaddafi and his sons; a Syrian ‘leader’ mowing down anyone who questions his authority; many of the world’s economies buckling under debt and the human cost of rectifying this; dodgy dossiers and silky spin doctors’ skills nudging us off to war; our own prisons overflowing with those sentenced for their part in the recent riots, which had left so many feeling powerless and unprotected. The play, which is funny, sad and shocking, will have a very contemporary resonance when it arrives on the Playhouse stage on 26 October. I can’t wait.
Simon Seligman, Head of Marketing and Communications