Fear and Misery in the Third Reich
Length: 534 words (1.5 double-spaced pages)
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On the 6th October 2005 I went to see a production of ‘Fear and Misery
in the Third Reich’ by Bertiot Brecht at the Markova Theatre. The
production was performed by the Watford Palace travelling theatre
During the performance once performance really did surprise me. It was
the performance of the ‘Jewish Woman’performed by Sarah Stanley.
The reason I found this a very surprising performance was that I was
incredibly moved by her performance. I left the play thinking very
deeply about the message she conveyed. I also felt extremely emotional
during that particular section. This surprised me as up until that
point I had not felt any emotion for any of the characters in the
play. I was also very surprised as I was not expecting to feel at all
moved as the play was written by Bertiot Brecht.
Brecht wanted to inspire the audience to act and change the world. He
wanted a theatre which reminded its audience at all times that they
were watching a play with actors – and not get emotionally attatched
to any other the characters. He wanted to discourage the audience from
identification of the characters. He hoped to achieve this with
anumber of distancing techniques, or ‘alienation’ techniques. Many of
these are present the ‘Jewish Woman’ scene through Sarah Stanleys
She started the scene completely out of character interacting with the
audience – reminding them she was an actor and not real. This didn’t
surprise me as it was typical Brecht. When she snapped to character –
I was very surprised. Her body language completely changed and
transformed her into the ‘Jewish Woman’. She walked extremely poised
and upright. She had a slow controlled pace – this was very effective
as she controlled the stage and engaged the audience’s attention. She
led with her chest and held her head high. She had an extremely proud
posture. She stuck her nose in the air and came across almost snobby.
I found this surprising as the woman knew why she was packing yet
Sarah Stanley decided to perform the woman as fearless and too proud
to show emotion. She used gestus amazingly and I immediately got an
impression of the class she was. She used her voice to enhance the
type of character also. She used stereotypical ‘posh’ accent. It was
very effective as it was very expressive and enhanced her mood and
when the scene reached a climax the woman true emotions were portrayed
partly through the desperate tone she had in her voice.
The way Sarah Stanley built up her character during scene to reach a
desperate climax surprised me also. I thought it was a very good angle
however – as the audience were gripped to her every word as her
performance contained so much colour and texture and caught the
emotions of the character perfectly.
It also surprised me when she suddenly broke out into the song ‘What
Good is Love anyway’. To me it was slightly out of context and a
surprise – I know that Brecht intended me too feel this way, as it
reminded me that the Jewish Woman was in fact just an actor.
Nevertheless, I was still surprised.
It surprised me that I believed in her character regardless of the
fact she was wearing a costume which was completely unreflective of
her character. Throughout the play the actors wore a constant costume
of a prisoner uniform – with a symbol on it to determine what kind of
prisoner they were (eg – the Jews would have a star of David). During
different scenes the actors would put on one thing to show there
character change – like the jewish woman had a pair of high heels and
a set of beads. I think having the Jewish Woman packing her bags in
such a proud manner, showing no signs if fear or misery to start with,
in the prisoner outfit was very effective as it almost showed what the
future held for this woman. I found this a very harrowing image.
I thought that Sarah Stanley performed the character of the Jewish
Woman extremely convincingly – yet very surprisingly and different to
how I imagined she would.