The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

written by

Bertholt Brecht

directed by

Michael Ahmad

performed at

The New Wimbledon Studio Theatre

6 - 10 June 2006

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui Poster



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Fresh from their sell-out show, Stags & Hens, Carlton Dramatic Society present Brecht's savage and witty parable of Hitler's rise to power.

A chilling reminder that greed and complacency are all it takes for evil to thrive, The Resistible Rise to Arturo Ui chronicles a small-town gangster's takeover of the local green goods trade.

Comic and tragic, farcical and shocking, Brecht combines parodies of the well known theatrical archetypes, Mark Antony, Richard III and Faust with his anger and incomprehension at his country’s headlong decent into madness – Hitler's Third Reich.

Here's what a reviewer said about one production of the play:

Set amidst the economic turmoil of gangster-controlled Chicago in the 1930s, the play is a direct and thinly veiled attack on German apathy towards the threat of Hitler's rise to power, and a warning to future generations. Two years before Hitler's programmes of extermination, the dangers of his expansionist tendencies and his ruthless political ambition were already apparent to Brecht as he transposes Hitler's manipulation of the German and Austrian governments onto a gangster's attempts, via the running of a protection racket, to take over the cauliflower trade in the American cities of Chicago and nearby Cicero during the Depression. Initially dismissed as an uncouth upstart, the gangster Ui uses a mixture of violence, incendiary speech and mesmerizing rhetoric to further his mafia-like promotion of brotherhood and blood ties. Ui and his group of maniacal followers force their way into power, ruthlessly exterminating dissenters and critics and finally achieving support and recognition from the vegetable traders of Chicago and Cicero."

The play mixes high drama with black comedy, original music and song, and promises to be an epic production.

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Synopsis

From the Director's Notes


Brecht's parable play on Hitler's ascendancy was written during three short weeks in Finland at the height of the war in Europe in March 1941. The author was in exile awaiting permission to enter the United States. Each of the main characters is an allegorical representation of a historical character, so for example Givola the horticulturist represents Paul Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister for propaganda (see below). Hitler and his ministers are transformed into bunch of small time gangsters as they charm and threaten (alternatively and in equal measure) their way to political and military power. This transformation is the primary vehicle for Brecht's satire. Looking at the Third Reich as a criminal organization is both shocking and comic. It was also a brave act for Brecht to put a contemporary figure such as Hitler on the stage, especially given that at the time it was by no means certain that the Allies would be victorious; America was still six months from entering the war.

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Theatrical Theories and Methods

From the Director's Notes


Brecht uses the Chicago setting populated by grim underworld characters in several of his plays, partly to create a sense of the exotic and fantastic, and partly to put a comforting distance between audience and characters; for the most part these plays are parables of Brecht's Berlin. They are also clearly redolent of those Hollywood gangster films of which Brecht was a fan, and which were so popular during and after prohibition in America. However, Brecht also considered giving ‘Arturo Ui’ a Roman setting and this belies another of his recurring themes, that of 'epic theatre' as demonstrated by the plays of the Elizabethans. Brecht clearly alludes to Shakespeare in several scenes, most notably in Scene 4 where Goodwill and Gaffles are obvious as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet. Scene 9a. where a woman is murdered is almost directly lifted from Julius Caesar, as are the large ensemble scenes in which Ui demonstrates his skills at rhetorical oration. There is even a ghost scene recalling both ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’.

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Music

From the Director's Notes


Brecht's epic style would be unthinkable without the use of music .Indeed several of the scenes of ‘Arturo Ui’ were composed specifically with a musical setting in mind. Music therefore plays an important part in our production. The incidental music is almost exclusively taken from central works of the nineteenth century Austro-German tradition. There is operetta from The Merry Widow (incidentally Hitler's favourite show), ‘Die Fledermaus’; there is Schubert and Beethoven, Strauss, Wagner and Brahms. This, I believe, reinforces the historical parallels within the play without damaging Brecht's primary intent.

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Chronology

From the Director's Notes


SCENE 1
1929 - 1932. Germany is hard hit by the world crisis. At the height of the crisis a number of Prussian Junkers try to obtain government loans, for a long time without success. The big industrialists in the Ruhr dream of expansion.
SCENE 2
By way of winning President Hindenburg's sympathy for their cause, the Junkers make him a present of a Landed estate.
SCENE 3
In the autumn of 1932, Adolf Hitler's party and private army are threatened with bankruptcy and disintegration. To save the situation Hitler tries desperately to have himself appointed Chancellor, but for a long time Hindenburg refuses to see him.
SCENE 4
In January 1933 Hindenburg appoints Hitler Chancellor in return for a promise to prevent the exposure of the Osthilfe (East Aid) scandal, in which Hindenburg himself is implicated.
SCENE 5
After coming to power legally, Hitler surprises his high patrons by extremely violent measures, but keeps his promises.
SCENE 6
The gang leader quickly transforms himself into a statesman. He is believed to have taken lessons in declamation and bearing from one Basil, a provincial actor.
SCENE 7
February 1933, the Reichstag Fire. Hitler accuses his enemies of instigating the fire and gives the signal for the Night of the Long Knives.
SCENE 8
The supreme court in Leipzig condemns an unemployed worker to death for causing the fire. The real incendiaries get off scot-free.
SCENES 9 & 10
The impending death of the aged Hindenburg provokes bitter struggles in the Nazi camp. The Junkers and industrialists demand Röhm's removal. The occupation of Austria is planned.
SCENE 11
On the night of the 30th June 1943 Hitter overpowers his friend Röhm at an inn where Röhm thinks that Hitler is coming to arrange for a joint strike against Hindenburg and Goring.
SCENE 12
Under compulsion the Austrian chancellor Englebert Dollfuss agrees to stop the attacks on Hitler that have been appearing in the Austrian press.
SCENE 13
Dollfuss is murdered at Hitler's instigation, but Hitler goes on negotiating with Austrian rightist circles.
SCENE 14
On 11 March 1938 Hitler marches into Austria. An election under the Nazi terror results in a 98% vote for Hitler.

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Parallels

From the Director's Notes


DOGSBOROUGH
Paul von Hindenburg (1847 - 1934), a German Field Marshal and statesman. An important figure during World War 1, he also served as President of Germany from 1925 to 1934.
ARTURO UI
Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945). Chancellor of Germany from 1933 and Fuehrer (Leader) of Germany from 1934 until his death. He was the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party, better known as the Nazi Party.
GIRI
Hermann Wilhelm Goering (1893 - 1946). A German politician and military leader known for being second in command of the Third Reich, a leading member of the Nazi Party, and commander of the Luftwaffe. He was tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremburg Trials in 1945-1946 and was sentenced to death. He avoided execution by committing suicide in his cell just hours before the sentence was due to be carried out.
ROMA
Ernst Julius Roehm. A German military officer and the commander and co-founder of the Nazi Sturmabteilung, or stormtroopers.
GIVOLA
Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels (1897 - 1945). Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister in Nazi Germany. Goebbels was known for his zealous and energetic oratory, virulent anti-Semitism, and perfection of the so-called 'Big Lie' technique of mass propaganda. Following Hitler's death he served as Chancellor for one day, approved the murder of his wife and their six children, and committed suicide.
DULLFEET
Engelbert Dollfuss (1892 - 1934). An Austrian statesman serving as chancellor for two years from 1932 until his assassination in 1934.
CAULIFLOWER TRUST
Junkers - the landed aristocracy of Prussia and Eastern Germany
VEGETABLE DEALERS
Petty bourgeoisie
GANGSTERS
Fascists
DOCK AID SCANDAL
Osthilfe (East Aid) scandal
WAREHOUSE FIRE TRIAL
Reichstag Fire trial
CHICAGO
Germany
CICERO
Austria

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Cast

each character is based on a real person or group


Arturo Ui - Gang Leader ~ Matthew Petty
Ernesto Roma - Ui's Lieutenant ~ Rich Gladwell
Emanuelle Giri - a gansgter ~ Dave Eastman
Givola - the horticultural gangster ~ Kristen McGorry
Old Dogsborough ~ Mike Norman-Smith
Clark - a member of the Cauliflower Trust ~ Val Foskett
Flake - a member of the Cauliflower Trust, Betty Dullfeet - wife of Ignatius Dullfeet ~ Kirsty Collins
Butcher - a member of the Cauliflower Trust, Young Inna - Roma's familiar, A Woman, Vegetable Dealer, Gunperson ~ Katy Wey
Mulberry - a member of the Cauliflower Trust, Young Dogsborough, Bowl - Sheet's Accountant, Defendant Fish, Vegetable Dealer, Gunperson ~ Ali Bushell
Caruther - a member of the Cauliflower Trust, An Actor, The Prosecutor, Gunperson, Vegetable Dealer ~ Neil Kelly
Ignatius Dullfeet, Dogsborough's Butler ~ James Grayston
Ragg - a reporter on The Star, Hook - a vegetable dealer, Gunperson ~ Jason Rodericks
Gaffles - a member of the City Council, The Defence Counsel, Vegetable Dealer ~ Jane Richards
Goodwill - a member of the City Council, The Doctor, Vegetable Dealer ~ Jennifer Owusu-Akyaw
Sheet - a shipyard owner, O'Casey - an investigator, James Greenwool - a singing gunman ~ Matt Halfpenny
The Judge ~ Kathie Arundell
Dockdaisy, Vegetable Dealer ~ Louisa Court
Vegetable Dealer ~ Alison Raffan
Vegetable Dealer ~ Jo Forest-Jones

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Crew

all the backstage help


Director ~ Michael Ahmad
Producer ~ Joanne Crabtree
Stage Manager ~ Ellie Levy
Music ~ Michael Ahmad
Lighting / Sound ~ Simon Harris
Backstage ~ Ellie Gillian
Costumes ~ Ellie Levy
Makeup ~ Kristen McGorry
Publicity ~ Mike Norman-Smith
Artwork ~ Matthew Petty
Photography ~ Kristen McGorry
Programme ~ Ellie Levy
Front of House ~ Ruth Brooks, Jane Lewis, Mehmet Izbudak,
Ian Ward, Julia Derbyshire, James Derbyshire,
Joanne Crabtree, Jethro Crabb
Web Page ~ Matthew Petty

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SPECIAL THANKS TO...


GARY SEDGWICK
for sound production
RICHARD FOSKETT
for the use of his van
THE BILL
for the use of their props
W. A. TRUELOVE AND SONS LTD
for providing the coffin

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Photographs

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