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Herr Puntila and his Servant Matti Mar 7, 1990

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BOSSES
University of British Columbia
Frederic Wood Theatre
presents
HERR PUNTILA
AND HIS
SERVANT MATTI
By BERTOLT BRECHT
Directed By
Arne Zaslove
March 7 -17
1990 Bertolt Brecht
1898 -1956
BRECHT: A Short Chronology
1898 Brecht born in Augsburg, Germany
1917 Enrolls in Medical School at Munich University
1918 Orderly at Military Hospital.
Writes Baal, his first play
1924        Works as dramaturg in Berlin.
Begins systematic study of Marx.
1926        Man is Man.
1928        The Threepenny Opera.
1933        Hitler comes to power. Brecht is forced into
exile: Switzerland, Denmark, Finland
1940 HERR PUNTILA & HIS SERVANT MATTI.
1941 Brecht arrives in the U.S.A.
Occasional work in Hollywood. Mother Courage.
1943        The Good Woman ofSetzuan.
1945        The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
1947        Brecht is questioned by the Committee on Un-American
Activities. Returns to Europe. Settles in East Berlin.
1949        Forms "The Berlin Ensemble."
All energies devoted to running this company.
1956        Brecht dies in Berlin. A Note
on
HERR PUNTILA AND HIS SERVANT MATTI
Written in 1940, this boisterous folk comedy is a product of
Brecht's years of exile from Hitler's Germany. For a dramatist whose
life and work were imbued with contradictions it is a fitting paradox
that his isolation from his homeland and from the theatre was at once
the most difficult and the most artistically fruitful period of his career.
The rollicking farce of Puntila, its delight in nature, its earthy humour
and its roughhewn vigour, have made it one of Brecht's most accessible
and frequently performed plays. Recent critics and biographers have
argued that it also deserves a more serious place among the great works
of the artist's maturity: Mother Courage (1938), The Good Woman of
Setzuan (1940) and The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1944). Though the
play itself may be less substantial than those masterpieces, the character
of Puntila is surely one of Brecht's inspired creations.
It is usual to trace the initial idea to Hella Wuolijoki, a Finnish
landowner and would-be dramatist on whose estate Brecht was staying
during the summer of 1940. The name of Puntila, his changes from
kindly intoxication to nasty sobriety, and the episode in which he
acquires multiple fiancees derive from Wuolijoki's draft for a play.
Aware of the inadequacies of her script, she urged Brecht to collaborate
with her in rewriting it for a local folk competition. Brecht had no
belief in romantic notions of artistic originality and was used to borrowing material and working with collaborators. What was original was
that he always took over anything he borrowed or collaborated on,
making it entirely his own. Wuolijoki saw little of her work in the final
version, aside from the basic premise.
So it is with other influences that critics have discerned, most
notably Chaplin's film City Lights, which Brecht had reviewed when it
opened in Berlin in 1931. The film's sequences with the millionaire,
who is affable when intoxicated but who throws The Tramp out
when he sobers up, are a striking parallel to the play. But the
millionaire, is basically a foil for Chaplin's Tramp, and the
sequences between them are subordinate to the main plot.
Brecht moves the secondary figure into the very center of his
play. In contrast to both Chaplin and Wuolijoki, it is the split
character and behaviour of the wealthy man, together with the
implied class conflict, that are of primary interest to Brecht.
They are also what relate Puntila to his other great plays.
Puntila's shifts between intoxication and sobriety are a comic
variation on Brecht's preoccupation with split personalities as
metaphors for the human condition. The causes of that divided
nature are in Brecht's view not psychological but materialistic.
They are rooted in social and economic circumstances which
make human spontaneity and goodness incompatible with self-
interest or survival, and which alienate people from their better
nature and their fellow beings. Puntila's drunken vitality
emphasizes not only his own frustrated impulses but those of
others, especially Matti and Eva, who also yearn to break free
of class and convention and realize their humanity. Circumstances overpower human aspirations, revealing them as
Utopian dreams and giving this comedy tragic undertones and a
less than happy ending.
Doug McCallum
Doug McCallum is Ph.D. candidate in the Theatre Department. HERR PUNTILA
AND HIS
SERVANT MATTI
by BERTOLT BRECHT
Directed by Arne Zaslove
Set Design by Ronald Fedoruk
Costume Design by Mara Gottler
Lighting Design by Don Griffiths
Music Composed and Directed by Adam Jonathan Con
CAST
Puntila Michael O'Donnell
Eva Puntila Michelle Porter
Matti Peter Wilds
The Judge Bill Melathopolous
The Attache Guy Fauchon
Sly-Grog Emma  Kathleen Duborg
and Susan C. Bertoia
The Chemist's Assistant Lois Anderson
The Milkmaid Eliza Green-Moncur
The Telephonist  Lisa Beley
Red Surkkala Barry Levy
Fina Michele Melland
The Lawyer David Mackay
The Parson  Roger Haskett
The Parson's Wife Kathleen Duborg
and Susan C. Bertoia
Workers  Damon Calderwood
Pierre Elrick
Michael Johnson
Ben Lubinizki
Richard Rigby
David Vaisbord
Christopher Wanjoff
PRODUCTION
Technical Director Ian Pratt
Properties Supervisor Sherry Milne
Costume Supervisor Chelsea Moore
Set Construction  Don Griffiths, John Henrickson
Robert Moser
Costume Cutter  Jean Driscoll-Bell
Seamstress Linda Findley
Stage Manager Darryll Patterson
Assistant to Director Gerald Vanderwoude
Assistant Stage Managers  Dean Debienne, Kristen Johnson
Wardrobe Mistress Jo Howitz
Set Design Assistants Jo Howitz, Tania Lazib
Costume Design Assistants  Nancy Canning, Celine Boucher
Lighting Design Assistant  Mark Classen
Lighting Operator  Kevin McAllister
Make Up  Nick Davis
Head Electrician Glen Winter
Lighting Crew   Jeff Rankin, Nik von Schulmann
Box Office  Carolyn Preiswerck, Mariascha Wright
Lisa Beley
House Manager  Nancy Lyons
Business Manager   Marjorie Fordham
Production Manager Robert Eberle
There will be one 15 minute intermission. On Designing
HERR PUNTILA AND HIS SERVANT MATTI
The Lawyer
If collage itself is, as Max Ernst once defined it, "a pictorial entity
composed of disparate constituents, pasted together and possibly also
worked over with brush or pen",1 then the design principle in costuming
Puntila and his Servant Matti falls naturally into place. The overall
look is a pastiche of images and plays-on-words which paints an
unpleasant veneer over the characters: the masks are reminiscent of
Hannah Hoch's collaged faces; the makeup and wigs suggest the gross
colourations of Otto Dix; and the clothing silhouettes replicate the
distorted lines and exaggerated shapes of George Grosz's satiric
sketches.
The Novembergruppe of which Brecht, Weill, Hoch and Grosz were
members, collected other "revolutionaries of the spirit" and addressed
certain issues in attempting to bring together art and the people. One of
the questions posed in the 1918 Manifesto relates directly to a concern
found in Brecht's play: "Will not the Germany of the conquering middle
class once again make shameless use of the workers' strength and
humble the poor even further?"2 In attempting to rectify such
indecencies, many of the artists in the Novembergruppe resorted to cruel
visual statements attacking the "pillars of society". Collage became an
experimental form for those members with dadaistic or surrealistic
leanings: plundering dreamscapes and automatic states of being for their
inspiration, they created patterns and images of association which "held
up a mirror to the age through a variety of materials presented in chaotic
disorder."3
Costuming Puntila and his Servant Matti in this collaged manner is
my attempt to project both the essence of Brecht's political statement
and to pay homage to the disturbing, artificial and fragmentary visions
depicted by the Novembergruppe.
1 Uwe M. Schneede, The Essential Max Ernst: (Thames and Hudson; London, 1972),
p. 29
2 Wolf Von Eckhardt and Sander L. Oilman, Bertolt Brecht's Berlin (Anchor Books;
New York, 1975), p. 69
3 The Esenlial Max Ernst  p. 29 The English-speaking World according to Bertolt Brecht
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Outposts of Empire Frederic Wood Theatre
The 1990/91 Season
A VIEW FROM
THE BRIDGE
by Arthur Miller
September 19-29
YOU CAN'T
TAKE
IT WITH YOU
by Kaufman and Hart
November 14-24
OUR
COUNTRY'S
GOOD
by Timberlake Wertenbaker
January 16-26
HAMLET
by William Shakespeare
March 6-16
BOX OFFICE
228-2678
Department of Theatre
The University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1W5

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