Theater major from Taylor is part of EMU production cast

Taylor resident Josh Hamilton, a junior in Eastern Michigan University’s theater program, is one of six cast members in Brecht on Brecht, which opens a six-performance run at Eastern Michigan University Theatre at 7 p.m. March 28.

The production is an eclectic mix of songs, poems, scenes and other musings by one of the 20th Century’s most influential playwrights. The members of the ensemble company are directed by Pirooz Aghssa as they explore Bertolt Brecht’s paradoxical themes where comedy reveals tragedy, mirth accentuates sorrow and lyrics counter melody.

All performances will be in the Sponberg Theatre in the Quirk Dramatic Arts Building, located at the intersection of East Circle Drive and Best Hall on EMU’s Ypsilanti Campus.

Brecht on Brecht will run March 28, 29 and April 3, 4, 5 at 7 p.m. and March 30 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for students and $9 for MAINSTAGE patrons. Tickets are available by phone at (734) 487-2282 and in person at the Convocation Center, the New Student Center ticket office and the Quirk Box Office.

Bertolt Brecht is among a handful of playwrights to be given his own adjective. “Brechtian” theatre, with its rejection of conventional theatrical illusion and emphasis on epic theatricalism, was born in the turmoil of post World War I Germany. It came to maturity fighting the fascism of Hitler and remains a frequently utilized style designed to involve the audience’s intellect as well as influence emotions.

Brecht on Brecht utilizes a full spectrum of Brechtian theatre, from biting social commentary to hilarious satire to profoundly moving story telling. It presents the tragedy of the Third Reich, the irony of compliancy in a democracy, and Brecht’s own astute whit when challenged by the House Un-American Activities Committee. It can evoke tears of laughter, anger and sorrow through which the paradox of human behavior ban be brought into focus.

There have been scores of productions of Brecht on Brecht since it premiered in 1961 and for the most part each has been unique. Brecht collaborator George Tabori compiled the collection of material used, but invited directors to improvise to create a production informed by the time and place of each production. For EMU Theatre’s production, Director Aghssa has selected musical numbers by another Brecht collaborator, Kurt Weill. The two worked together to create several musicals, including Threepenny Opera and Happy End. The songs selected, like the poetry and scenes, reflect a wide range of musical styles from an ironic military march “Berlin in Licht” to the melancholy reflection of “September Song.”

Josh Hamilton is the son of Rick and Debra Hamilton of Taylor. Joining him in the ensemble cast are Luna Alexander, a freshman from Ann Arbor; Ben Berg, a freshman from South Lyon; Krissi Hardy, a freshman from Grand Blanc; Andy Orscheln, a junior from Milan; and Emily Tipton, a sophomore from Wyandotte.

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Josh Hamilton of Taylor and Luna Alexander of Ann Arbor are company members in Brecht on Brecht at Eastern Michigan University.