By Kenneth H. Brown
Directed by Judith Malina
general manager: Gary Brackett produced by Hanon Reznikov
assistant director: Claire Lebowitz
Cast: Gene Ardor, Kesh Baggan, Gary Brackett, Brad Burgess, Edward Chin-Lyn, Albert Lamont, Abraham Makany, Jeff Nash, Berry Newkirk, Bradford Rosenbloom, Jade Rothman,Lucas Salvagno,Isaac Scranton, Joshua Striker-Roberts, Evan True, Antwan Ward
(The Living Theater}
Fri.-Sat. Sun. $30
Wed. Pay-What-You-Can (no reservations)
reservations: www.livingtheatre.org tel 212 352-3101
Students half price: info www.livingtheatre.org
The Silence of "The Brig"
A review by Martin Reckhaus
Martin Reckhaus, actor/director/writer, has been living and working on the
Jeff Nash, John Kohan, Albert Lamont, and Isaac Scranton
Photo courtesy of (John Ranard}.
History sweeps through our consciousness. Her movements are the most familiar and the most foreign of affairs. And even if we do not grasp the story fully, we are bound by her seduction. When the theater opens the gates, the tablets are held high again.
The theater's limitless renewal ....
The Brig, written by Kenneth H. Brown and directed by Judith Malina, outlines the daily ritual of order and punishment in a marine prison of the 20th century. The scene is an unrelenting cacophony of marching boots, shouted orders, and screaming requests for "permission to cross the white line!" The only relief comes when the prisoners read from the manual of the U.S. Marine Corps in silence. The audience is silent. The guards watch.
That sound -- its absence and desire -- that helpless desire of actors undone by relentless rehearsal, relentless repetition ....
Actors as prisoners. And us, the audience -- prisoners as actors. How to undo the silent participation in a culture of military economics and military science?
We have become the history eaters and are left with a military menu.
In the Living Theatre's production, the dividing line between stage and audience is barbed wire. We look at our historic condition across this line.
The others, the prisoners onstage, held in check by obedient guards of ritual humiliation -- who are they? Who is Number 3? Do I see the actor through the forced mask of Prisoner Number 5? Do I see the person through the endless repetition onstage of what hasn't changed in 2,000 years?
Remarkable about The Brig is that nothing has changed -- onstage. Yes, this same production could be seen in this city decades ago. But if The Brig falls under the genre of "revival," it is due to its reception in the press, rather than to the reoccurrence of its radical theatrical proposition.
To explain the importance of The Brig, critics point to the history of theater, measuring the difference between "then" and "now" as an influence on the spectators' perceptions.
History, criticism, and military ritual -- three civilian concerns that engage us -- as ever.
When Abu Graib happened, were proponents of theatrical realism calling for a theatrical representation that would make the audience relive torture and sexual abuse in order to change American foreign politics?
What is the consequence of knowing? If nothing has changed onstage, what makes the performance of The Brig such an extraordinary event? The history of experimental theater? No. The appearance of history? Yes.
How does history appear? In undeniable collective emotion.
In The Brig, this is called silence.
"Mickey 2" picture: (l.to r.) Albert Lamont, Jeff Nash and Gary Brackett
(no photo credit available)