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Title:The Galileo plays of Bertolt Brecht and Barrie Stavis
Author(s):Larson, David Ward
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hobgood, Burnet M.
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:During the 1940s Bertolt Brecht and Barrie Stavis simultaneously explored the morality of modern science through the dramatization of Galileo's seventeenth century recantation of the truth involving the physical universe. Significant, yet contrasting statements were made about the modern world.
In 1947 Galileo and Lamp at Midnight appeared within a fortnight in New York City. Produced by the fledgling non-profit theatre movement, the two plays were unable to generate sufficient audience response to sustain their production runs beyond eight days. However, both Galileo and Lamp at Midnight have subsequently proven their theatrical worthiness with dynamic production histories. Whereas the appearance of the plays in 1947 seemed a mere coincidence, it is now possible to see new import in these two plays.
This dissertation is an historical/critical study. Its purpose is to account for Galileo and Lamp at Midnight, both the coincidence of their original New York debuts and their present standing as pertinent theatrical events. To recognize this position Chapter One examines the events surrounding their concurrent appearance in 1947; the struggle for production, and the subsequent critical response which each play generated. Chapter Two explores the development of each play; Brecht's influential collaboration with Charles Laughton, and Stavis's determination to create a new theatre form. The Third and Fourth Chapters respectively identify the distinguishing features within each play which contribute to its continuance in the theatrical repertoire: Galileo's socialist utopia and Lamp at Midnight's isolated humanism. Both works address the modern tension between faith and reason, with Brecht advocating the social implications of scientific reason and Stavis promoting an heroic faith in the potential of man. The final chapter concludes that Brecht and Stavis have drawn upon a perceived significance inherent in their historic subject matter. Brecht and Stavis present Galileo as an early mediator between scientific truth and political manipulation; in this way, his recantation is seen as a distinctly modern event.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Larson, David Ward
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9010925
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9010925

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