The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui

June 29, 2016 at 11:22 AM

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

Edmund Burke

Over two nights this week, drama students in Year 12 have performed a moving production of ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.’ Written in 1941 by German playwright, Bertold Brecht, the drama chronicles the rise of Arturo Ui, a fictional 1930s Chicago mobster, and his attempts to control the cauliflower racket in the city market by ruthlessly disposing of the opposition. The key characters and events in the play are deliberate and conscious parallels to those that surrounded Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. Brecht’s message is that Hitler’s evil flourished, and evil will always flourish unless good people are bold enough to confront that evil. Staged on a stark set in the Jack Paine Centre with minimal props and costuming, the strength of the production lay in the students’ dramatic ability.

The production was part of the Year 12 drama students’ NCEA Level 2 assessment which builds their technique, skills and developing knowledge of staging a play. Their assessment activity required them to prepare for and perform a substantial acting role that had sufficient depth and length to allow them to make a meaningful contribution to the play.

To clarify their understanding of the production and their role within it, the students were also required to submit an initial statement of intent for the interpretation of their role and an annotated extract from a part of the script where their role was prevalent. They were then assessed individually on how well they performed their acting role.

The students’ delivery stayed true to both Brecht’s message and his performance genre, most importantly ‘Verfremdungseffekt’ which literally translated means ‘strange-making effect.’ The actors talked directly to the audience, use symbolic and surprising props and change costume items in front of the audience. The intention is to shock, surprise and amuse the audience while delivering Brecht’s message, that it is our collective responsibility to stop evil.

In preparation, the students have been rehearsing the play over the last five weeks, also studying the techniques and conventions of political theatre, and researching the history and factors surrounding Brecht’s writing of the play and Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. Well done to all the students on a great night of theatre.

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