Saturday, March 5, 2011


"You can't write poems about trees when the woods are full of policemen." - Bertolt Brecht

A scene from The Threepenny Opera, a radical musical by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill created in 1931. Since then, the play has been translated into 18 languages and performed more than 10,000 times on European stages. Tonight we see it in Seattle!

So long ago,
her soul and mine entwined.
We shared all things together,

I used my mind
and I protected her.
She used her body
and supported me.

So begins the Ballad of the Pimp in The Threepenny Opera. The play is an anti-opera, a radical work of epic theater that critiques the capitalist system from the vantage point of the working poor and the criminal class. This is not just another musical to lull us to sleep, this play grabs our lapels and sings right into our faces. We smell Polly's cheap perfume, wince at the rage of Pirate Jenny, and dodge the blade of Mack the Knife--whose song became an international hit by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Here, no lounge singer but a violent pimp, Mack struts and frets in all his mad criminal glory. This is not just art for art's sake, or bloated entertainment, but truly dangerous stuff--what Hitler called "degenerate art."

Bertolt Brecht

Historical note: Brecht and Weill were forced to flee Germany in the thirties, and later Brecht was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee under suspicion of being a communist. Kurt Weill also wrote "September Song," a classic.

More about the Threepenny Opera HERE.

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