Friday, June 10, 2011

Sydney city lights (and some thoughts on Baal)


Last Friday night, we went to see the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Bertolt Brecht's Baal at Wharf 1 (first pic). It was awfully good. I loved the minimalism, the way the wall came down, the rain, the intensity with which the actors played their parts. It was kept to a tidy one hour and 10 minutes, although that was too long apparently for the people behind us - they walked out part-way through after the guy kept getting elbowed by his wife for gasping such things as, "Oh my!" and, "Oh dear!" Which was rather amusing in itself.

It was interesting to see the play placed in a new context outside of the Weimar Republic or Hanns Johst's Der Einsame. Baal certainly is an anti-hero, and rejects what society has to offer him - particularly bourgeois society, with all of its conventions, mores and belief systems. But it's still rooted in Sturm und Drang - celebrating the "genius" who lives outside of the conventions set by society, only to be destroyed by this.

And yet... With the STC's production of Baal with it's bogan aesthetic (hoodies, bourbon and coke, etc), I couldn't help but think of some of the deeply antisocial bogans out there who aren't Baalian geniuses, but who still drink too much, punch on, try it on with any female they meet, etc. It amused me somewhat from that perspective. Still, what's to say that their brand of "genius" might not appeal to the bourgeois set who want to transform it, commodify it, constrain it to their own way of thinking and behaving? What might be a refreshing perspective for some in the art world is dull and stultifying to others who experience it on a daily basis. Who wants to constantly deal with someone who may be hailed as a genius, but acts like a three year old?

Anyway, there are some sort of consequences for Baal, even though he's allowed to indulge himself totally. People wonder how this can happen, but honestly, we see these sort of things happening every day in the real world. People often excuse a lot of bad behaviour if someone has a certain talent or skill they appreciate (like being good at football...). Baal leeches off of everyone else, and then finally runs out of sympathy, excuses and connections to die alone in a forest hut.

Ultimately, I thought it was a good production. I know there are others who disagree, but everyone has different perspectives on everything! And after such bleakness, it was refreshing to wander around the harbour area in Sydney, looking at all of the beautiful light displays, etc. Much as I don't have a load of love for Sydney, it is beautiful at night in the harbour area.

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