After reading Martin Esslin’s synopsis of St Joan of the Stockyards (in the Brecht Biography I was recently so inspired by) I had ideas for adapting it. Taking Brecht’s play and making it in my style, with my message attached. His play is about violence over morality and reform, my play will be about creative construction over violence. His play is cut up into many short scenes with songs, poetic language and clear-cut easy-to-interpret, totally didactic content. My play will be one or two long scenes, full of ambiguity and pushing the audience to teach themselves, rather than trying to simply teach the audience.
So, I got a hold of a copy of St Joan of the Stockyards. I like it more than the other Brecht I’ve read, in spite of the poetry and propagandisticness. There's a great scene where Joan, the naive idealist protagonist, relizes that she shoulda helped the militant communists and that her religious charity organization is corrupt. She has this speech about smashing people's heads into the concrete until they are crushed, it's so violent and unexpected from this character, very nice.
I'm thinking about how to adapt it, and have two ideas.
Half of me wants to set it in palestine with the Black Straw Hats (religious charity) replaced by Hamas, so the religion is supporting violence and Joan breaks away to support art. Trouble with that is, the original is about stock exchange prices, and exposes the inherent flaws of capitalism really well (y'know the 'burn half the stock so the supply goes down, and prices can go up so we sell the other half to these starving people for more than double the price.') and i don't know how that would play out in a Palestine setting. i feel like there'd be too much going on, or it would stop being about that and istead be about bullshit like land rights and religiousness.
The other half of me wants to build a crazy set where the stockyards are underneath the stock exchange and there's a cast of over 100, most of whom are standing underneath and holding up the floor of the stock exchange. (so, this isn't going to be our easy-to-tour-with show, obviously) the trouble with that is, well, it's kind logistically nigh impossible, but it would make a great spectacle. I'm all for spectacle theatre. I think spectacle works better than alienation effect. You've gotta wow the audience a little bit and before they'll get interested in the artifice of the theatre.
5 days ago