‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’

Written by Bertolt Brecht It has been a long time since the people of Belfast, has had the opportunity to enjoy ‘Left Wing Theatre’.  This opportunity recently took the form in the presentation of Bertolt Brecht’s most notable and potent play ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’.

With the spectre of Fascism’s emergence in Europe, most notably in Italy and Germany, Brecht wrote ‘The Resistible Rise…’ play to parallel the ascendancy of Adolf Hitler, and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (better known as  the Nazi Party) in Germany, from the late 20, to the early 30, 

The adapted script was by Ralph Manhiem and directed by Lisa May, preformed by ‘BRUISER THEATRE COMPANY’ (founded by Lisa May).  Performances were staged consecutively over two nights in The Belfast Waterfront’s studios; the venue was surprisingly complementary to the production.

Bertolt Brecht portrays his characters with that of small time gangsters in Chicago and neighbouring city Cicero, during the great depression of the latter part of the 20s and into the 30s, each character is paralleled with that of the chief protagonists and the historical events taking place in Germany between 1928 -1932.

Arturo Ui, is a small time gangster, whose rise to prominence is paralleled with Hitler. Arturo’s henchmen characteristic parallel other historical figures and groups: Giri/Georing, leading Nazi, second in command of the Third Reich and commander of the Luftwaffe; Roma/ Ernst Rohn, co-fonder of the Nazi Brown Shirts; Givola/Joseph Goebblels, Hitler’s propaganda minister and a virulent anti-Semitists. The state is paralleled with the ‘Cauliflower Trust’/the capitalist industrialists, the Junkers, the Prussian landed aristocracy. Chicago is characterised with that of Germany, and Cicero with Austria.

Lisa May’s, directing and the professional performance of the actors gave a comprehensive insight as to the nature of Brecht’s thinking during that period. A cast of six acting forty characters can only speak for itself. Each actor must be praised for the roles that they played, moving from one character then to another gives the play an added interest. The play consisted of fourteen scenes in chronological order. Scene 1 is paralleled with 1929-1932s, as Germany is hit by the world economic crisis (the great depression). This is the first stage in the rise of Arturo Ui, from a small time gangster and his ruthless rise to what only could be described as ‘The Godfather’ (Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor). Each scene is paralleled with the traumatic events that are taking place in Germany, concluding with Arturo and his henchmen being recognised and supported by the vegetable traders of Chicago and Cicero.   

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