19th October, 2021 -
17th May, 2021
Professor Anna Seymour (University of Roehampton)
“Mere catastrophe is a bad teacher. One learns hunger and thirst but seldom hunger for truth and thirst for knowledge. No amount of illness will turn a sick man into a physician.” (Brecht 1964, pg 249)
In his (2015) magisterial biography, Stephen Parker recounts how Bertolt Brecht suffered not only from a serious heart problem and near constant renal issues but also a rare neurological condition which benefitted from maintaining a sense of equilibrium. Yet this was a man who traversed countries as Nazism swept Europe and in exile wrote some of the most important plays of the 20th century. In ‘the dark times’ he poeticised there will “still be singing”. He regarded theatre as a part of, as well as a rigorous intervention into, everyday life that provides what we can consider in therapeutic terms as a projective, durational container for harsh experience.
For those of us engaged in making theatre, and using theatre for healing and learning, Brecht has a great deal to teach us, but that learning needs to be continually, dialectically engaged in the ‘new times’ we face. We need robust ideas to inform our practice which must be constantly renewed, and this seminar led by Professor Anna Seymour offers a dramatherapeutic approach to re-examining Brechtian praxis in the times of COVID-19 and the context of Trumpism, Brexit, struggles with identity and the audacity of the new right.