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Directorial concept for Woyzeck

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catherine marriott-brown

on 25 September 2014

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Transcript of Directorial concept for Woyzeck

Russia during the period of the Napoleonic Wars
performance space
I would ideally like to stage this production in the round, as the practitioner I will be basing my concept on is Bertholt Brecht, and I feel that this setting will enhance the awareness of the audience that they are watching a message based play, rather than an emotionally immersive performance.
I aim to have a heavily german expressionist style piece to ensure elements of the original performance are retained
Visual, Aural and Spatial elemens
Harsh bright lighting to throw all of the action into view
The characters should be dressed as their equivalents from 19th century russia-Woyzeck in a Russian army uniform, etc
Traditional music from the period to break up the action, especially at the fair
what happened during the Napoleonic wars?
How is this relevant to Woyzeck?
Mistreated peasant population -represented by Marie (and Woyzeck)
Serfdom maintained by Alexander I to withold rights from peasants and allow greater conscription into the Russian army -Woyzeck's job as a soldier, his treatment by the doctor etc.
Small upper class who hold large amount of power and mistreat/disregard the peasant population -the doctor, the drum major and the commander. although these characters outnumber the 'peasant' characters, I feel that this more accurately represents the distribution of power between them
Alexander I repeatedly changing alliances with/against Napoleon -Marie's betrayal of Woyzeck for the Drum Major.
The Russian army's retreat across Russia- Marie and Margaret see the Drum Major at the retreat in scene 2
key moments
Scene one sound of fire: oncoming war
staging -Projector throws images of flames with silhouettes of advancing cossacks across the stage and the audience. (German expressionist)
-loud sound effects, evoking destruction
Scene three showman: Alexander I's treatment/opinions on peasants
staging -the horse is shown by the reactions of the actors, there is no physical representation. I feel that this mirrors the failure of the showman to actually display an impressive trick, and also highlights the poverty of entertainment for the characters
Shaving the Captain: i see this as representing the Marxist idea that the peasant classes hold the power to overturn an oppressive bourgeoisie (through their numbers- here represented by the prop of the razor) but historically often lack the initiative.
Directorial concept for Woyzeck
theme: class division
almost 90% of the population were peasants
there was a very small bourgeoisie, constituting of the tsar and those close to him, with the middle classes being almost non-existent.
this meant that there was massive polarization of wealth and peasant quality of life was poor.

Napoleon's unsuccessful invasion of Russia in the early 19th century was a turning point in the Napoleonic wars and began Napoleon's downfall, and his thus-far unshakeable reputation.
However, Russia's peasant population suffered greatly from Alexander I's tactics, which involved the destruction of many villages and their farmlands, to prevent settlement by the advancing French army, as the Russian army retreated into their own territory.
Cossacks were sent to burn villages to the ground and kill French soldiers who were forced to settle in woodlands, when they went out in search of food at night time.
Theme of violence
I feel that the theme of violence throughout the play; of which we are constantly reminded by Woyzeck's job as a soldier; could legitimately be representative of the bloodshed in the battles of the Napoleonic wars. I see Marie's death as representative of the treatment of the peasants by Russia's own cossacks and Woyzecks suffering similarly symbolizing the peasants general mistreatment and quality of life.
Russian cultural impact
The campaign had massive impact, with their sustained role in Russian culture evident in Tolstoy's War and Peace, and Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture. I may use these as inspiration for VAS elements in my production.
symbolism of the razor
Woyzeck talks in scene 5 about being too poor for virtue. In this scene, although his status remains low he in theory holds in his hand the ability to do the Captain serious harm. He does not act on this however, and by the end of the book his continuing oppression has driven him to his own self-destruction. In my interpretation this scene is a foreshadowing of the communist revolution in Russia approximately 100 years later. I would aim to suggest this to the audience through use of Brechtian techniques, such as placards, which I feel would be appropriate due to the Marxist messages of much of Brecht's work.
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