Early thoughts on Galileo
Ann Dixon has asked me to start the discussion thread off with some thoughts about the Wilma’s production of Life of Galileo. These aren’t the most stimulating thoughts I’ve had, but here goes. More of my thoughts (and translator David Edgar’s) are online at our website, along with rehearsal (and soon performance) photos of the play.
We had our first preview of Galileo last night. Considering it was only the second time the actors have been able to run the play in the past week, it went surprisingly well. This is a real workout for them, especially for John Campion as Galileo, a role comparable in size to King Lear and requiring him to give the illusion of aging nearly 30 years over the course of the evening.
Now comes the exciting and challenging part: will it seem as exciting to the audience as it has to us during the rehearsal process? Does the play resonate with the audience’s everyday life? Pope Benedict did us a favor this week, questioning science’s ability to answer humanity’s questions. And the larger question remains the same as for all productions of the play: does the audience accept Brecht’s judgment on Galileo? Have we been too soft on him? I personally have always found myself more in agreement with Andrea – that, even if Brecht is correct in seeing Galileo’s recantation as a betrayal of science and humanity, his self-condemnation cannot be the final word, any more than Brecht’s inability to stand up to the GDR’s government in June 1953 (or his treatment of his friends and lovers) can be the final word on him for me.
Our panel discussion series is also beginning this week, an undertaking much larger than we usually attempt alongside a production. Hopefully these will stimulate more discussion on this site as well.