23 April 2015

Poetry Thursday - Bertolt Brecht, on acting

"permitting the spectator / to experience this Now on many levels" (via)

So you should simply make the instant
Stand out, without in process hiding
What you are making it stand out from,
  Give your acting
That progression of one-thing-after-another,
  that attitude of
Working up what you have taken on. In this way
You will show the flow of events and also the course
Of your work, permitting the spectator
To experience this Now on many levels, coming from
  Previously and
Merging into Afterwards, also having much else Now
Alongside it. He is sitting not only
In your theatre but also
In the world.

-- Bertolt Brecht, from "Portrayal of past and present in one", part of Four Theatre Poems (in Poems, 1913-56)

"What Bertolt Brecht wrote about acting in one of his poems is applicable to such a practice [putting a photograph back into the context of experience, social experience, social memory]. For instant one can read photography, for acting the re-creating of context" wrote John Berger in his 1978 essay, Uses of Photography, where this section of the poem is quoted. Undoubtedly instant and acting can be replaced by words relating to any art form; the "attitude of working up what you have taken on" is the process of making any form of art.

The poem is a reminder of that important question in making art: "Who is your audience?" and a spur to considering what the audience/spectator/viewer will bring to the work to "complete" it.

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