Friday, July 15, 2005

Producing posters to alienate the audience

An important device for producing Brecht's plays is called defamiliarization. Victor Shklovsky articulated this most succinctly with his word ostranenie 'making strange.' The concept is simple. In terms of Brechtian theater, the audience should know they are watching a play. This is important because most conventional plays have invisible strings attached to the audience's psyche--pulling them into the action on stage and secretly slipping them an ideological soporific.

Theater, for Brecht, is foremost a spectacle. Psychological drama shields the audience from recognizing any ideological perspective the play puts forth. So the question for a producer of THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI is how to alienate the audience, make them aware that they are not part of the production, psychologically or otherwise. This question hinges on the parable which the play is actually about. In terms of THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI, the gangsters represent The Third Reich. A modern production of this play should take this into consideration while also producing an affect of contemporary political issues.

Most of Brecht's plays begin with an introduction, alerting the audience that they will be viewing a play about such and such. So it seems apropos to introduce slogans as an affective device alerting the audience of the parable which is to be put on in front of them as a play. Without further ado, here are some slogans which might make its way onto a poster in the production of the set of THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI:

"A PROPAGANDA SYSTEM WILL CONSISTENTLY PORTRAY PEOPLE ABUSED IN ENEMY STATES AS WORTHY VICTIMS, WHEREAS THOSE TREATED WITH EQUAL OR GREATER SEVERITY BY ITS OWN GOVERNMENT OR CLIENTS WILL BE UNWORTHY."

Some of you might recognize this from Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky's MANUFACTURING CONSENT. And, you are right.

HE CAME FROM TEXAS

THE REAL McCOY LIVES IN A WHITE HOUSE

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