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10 Brecht Poems Performance


10 Brecht Poems

A Two-Woman Vaudeville Performance about War and the Need for Dissent

April 13, 2004

8:00 p.m. Performance | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus


"10 Brecht Poems" is a sharp, humorous two-woman work of vaudeville that employs song, dance, storytelling, hand-painted slides, and shadow puppets to bring to life 10 poems by Bertolt Brecht, the acclaimed German playwright and social critic. Tannis Kowalchuk and Leese Walker are the creators and stars of the show, which uses satire and a variety of performance styles to examine the horrors of war, the importance of solidarity and the need for dissent. Each of the ten poems in the series is introduced by a hand-lettered placard and a simple chime, as the actresses juxtapose song, dance, and physical humor with Brecht’s poetic commentaries.

The "Village Voice" reviewer said, "Tannis Kowalchuk and Leese Walker could be serving fairy tales to the kiddies, but their intent is far more poignant and appreciated." "Theatre Scene" reviewer Jack Quinn said, "With grace, skill, and extraordinary energy, the actresses transform the stage, turning simple instruments and objects into the devices of a performance style akin to magical realism."

The show has been featured on National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio station WBAI, and German Public Radio. It has also been performed at a number of noteworthy performance spaces including the Goethe Institut in Washington, D.C. and P.S. 122 in New York City’s East Village. "10 Brecht Poems" enjoyed an extended run at the Brecht Forum in New York City, and was featured at the 2003 Ko Festival of Performance in Amherst, MA.

"10 Brecht Poems" is a co-production of the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble and NaCl Theatre, two organizations dedicated to the creation of original experimental theatre. Strike Anywhere has spent five seasons as artists-in-residence at the Theatre at St. Clements, an off-Broadway venue. NaCl is based in Highland Lake, NY where it organizes the annual Catskill Festival of New Theatre.

Leese Walker, artistic director of Strike Anywhere, has performed with the Irondale Ensemble, the Judith Shakespeare Company, the Osserman Dance Company and the Walter Thompson Orchestra. Tannis Kowalchuk, cofounder of NaCl Theatre (also known as the North American Cultural Laboratory), toured for eight years with Primus Theatre, one of Canada’s premiere experimental performance troupes. With NaCl, she has toured the U.S., Canada, Italy, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria.

Renowned for his social satires and critiques of modern civilization, Bertolt Brecht is widely regarded as one of the major playwrights of the 20th century, and as a poet of considerable power. He was born in Augsburg, Germany in 1898, and died in Berlin in 1956. His best-known plays of the ‘20s and ‘30s include "Man Equals Man," "The Threepenny Opera," and "The Mother." He fled Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933, and lived in the United States from 1941 to 1947. In exile, he wrote "The Life of Galileo," "Mother Courage," and "The Caucasian Chalk Circle." His major collection of poetry, "Svendborger Gedichte," was published in 1939 (and appeared in English as "Svendborg Poems" in 1976).

Additional Links:
Times Union Article

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