By Brecht, Bertolt; Brecht, Bertolt; Bial, Henry; Martin, Carol
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Extra info for Brecht sourcebook
After an interruption he will take up his performance at the exact place where he was interrupted. We disturb him at no mystic moment of creation. He had finished “creating” before he came on the stage. If scene building is going on while he is acting, he doesn’t mind. Stagehands hand him whatever he needs for his work quite openly. During a death scene played by Mei Lanfang a spectator sitting near me let out a startled cry at one of the actor’s gestures. Several spectators in front of us turned indignantly around and hissed: Sh!
Anger is naturally distinguished from fury, hate from dislike, love from sympathy, but the various movements of feeling are sparingly presented. The pervading coolness arises from the fact that the individual is not so much the center of interest as in western theatre. True, the cult of the star has gone further in Asia than perhaps anywhere else. The spectator’s eyes positively hang on the star. The other roles give him the cue to the star, place obstacles in his way, show him off. Nevertheless, the star places himself at a distance from the role he plays in the manner just described.
The subconscious is very hard to regulate. It has, so to speak, a bad memory. The Chinese performer knows nothing of these difficulties. He eschews complete transformation. He confines himself at the outset to merely quoting the character. But with how much art he does this! He requires only a minimum of illusion. What he shows is worth seeing even to those who are not out of their senses. What western actor, with the exception of a comedian or so, could do what the Chinese actor Mei Lanfang does—show the elements of his craft clad in evening dress in a room with no special lights before an audience of professionals?