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2 items from 2008

A Documentary on Brecht and His Theatre

31 December 2008 12:59 AM, PST | | See recent Backstage news »

Filmmaker John Walter says he wishes that when he became interested in writer-director Bertolt Brecht, there had been a documentary like Walter's Theater of War. "It's a nonacademic introduction to Brecht that doesn't foreground his theoretical writings but rather his sense of humor and his engagement with the world around him, and with just enough biographical information that gives you a foundation for further exploring his great body of work," says Walter.Interspersed with lively professorial commentary, recollections from Brecht's daughter, and footage of Brecht, the film takes as its jumping-off point the 2006 Public Theater production of Mother Courage and Her Children, featuring an adaptation by Tony Kushner and starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Austin Pendleton. It was directed by George C. Wolfe with music by Jeanine Tesori."I wanted to do this film for quite a while, but I was waiting for the right production, and this was it, »

- Simi Horwitz

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Theater Of War

24 December 2008 9:56 PM, PST | | See recent The AV Club news »

John Walter labels his film Theater Of War “a documentary about art and politics,” which is the kind of blatant provocation meant to pay homage to the film’s ostensible subject, Bertolt Brecht. In 2006, Walter was allowed to film the rehearsals for George C. Wolfe’s Central Park production of Brecht’s anti-war play Mother Courage And Her Children, starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Austin Pendleton, with a Tony Kushner translation and songs by Jeanine Tesori. Walter was also granted extended time with Streep, who allowed a rare and reluctant glimpse at her process in deference to Brecht, an artist who favored exposing his own artifice. Walter intersperses his coverage of the Mother Courage production with biographical sketches and analysis of Brecht—much of it provided by post-modern novelist Jay Cantor. At one point, Walter shoots some stock footage of Cantor working at his computer, then cuts to a shot of what. »

- Noel Murray

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