Brecht Fest to fill the emotional appetite of audiences

This coming weekend, the York Drama program will be performing Brecht Fest (a pun not to be confused with a morning meal) in the Baker Auditorium.

Directed by York teacher John Forsythe, this show will feature a series of short scenes by Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright. The plays all center around Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s, covering the reign of Hitler in Germany and the time period of World War Two. Most of the scenes will be under 10 minutes, but the second act will feature a one-act play titled Die Kleinbürgerhochzeit, “The Wedding Party”.

We may seem very far removed from the time period, but the messages in this production are quite familiar in current times, which connects quite well to the fall production The Children’s Hour, a play set in the 1960’s with an overlying theme of perception.

Photo by Eileen King
Forsythe directing some of the crew members during last Tuesday’s rehearsal.

“The topics that Brecht covers are really relevant and important in today’s political climate, and I feel as though being able to see all the different perspectives of a historical event that we know so well gives us an interesting and new take on those times,” senior Carina Kanzler said. “For example, what mentalities and events led people to do the horrendous things they did back in those times in Germany.”

With the emotional hardships of the show, students have found a more relaxed rehearsal process, trying to prevent students from being caught up in the troubling aspects of the production.

“Rehearsals are really great and it is really helpful to work with an incredible director, Mr. Forsythe,” freshman Olivia Rosenberg said. “This rehearsal process is definitely more lenient, leaving me less anxious about school and the show; it is really manageable for me, but still a great experience for the whole cast.”

Though rehearsals for the production were quite relaxed before, this past Sunday, cast members had an eight-hour practice for the week leading up to their performances. The cast and crew are working hard for a big weekend of theater.

Photo by Eileen King
Juniors Wilke Macariola, Erin Lee, Ellie Ryan, and Paul Campbell portraying a dramatic scene at dinner.

The show seemed very quick to some, but it was an exciting journey for cast members, getting to experience different emotional approaches to characters than they usually do.

“It has been such a whirlwind, and its been really fun because I get to see my fellow actors perform in different styles,” senior Danielle Fite said. “Some of the scenes are comedies, others are dramas.”

The production runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30, and Sunday at 2.  Forsythe describes the show as “like nothing you’ve seen before”, and hoped for students to come out and see the show, but did not encourage children to view the production, saying that “Brecht Fest, like strong coffee, is not recommended for children”.

“It is a really inspiring show – it makes you think a lot about people who’ve dealt with more hardships in their lives, and it makes you reflect on how blessed people really are,” sophomore Emma McGreal said.