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A Brechtian Coriolanus

November 16, 2010
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Steps of the VPL

Here is another idea that won’t let me sleep, either: an ideal staging for Shakespeare’s Coriolanus as street theatre à la Bertold Brecht.  The idea came to me as if the team from the movie Inception planted it in my mind, and I cannot imagine not seeing this show performed somehow someway.  One venue would be to perform it for the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, which often has site-specific venues, but the idea requires something bigger, more integrated within the city’s activist landscape.

 

Pro-Palestine Rally in Vancouver

The most relevant way to stage this political play is in reference to street protests, much like the Pro-Palestine rally earlier this year.  Not suggesting to make a mockery of issues these protester took to Federal Government Office Tower, adjoining the Library.  Instead what I have in mind is staging a play very much about the masses confronting the ruling class.  It needn’t block off Georgia St. either, as most of the action can take place in the spacious northwestern courtyard (or even the rooftop amphitheatre, if it ever is made open to the public).  Not only is there the architectural (yet anachronistic) allusion to Rome, but also the building records a very different time for Vancouver, the mid-1990’s, which places this play sometime between the Stanley Cup riot on Robson St. and the APEC Protest at UBC.  The general mood of this Brechtian staging will be to recall the countercultural strength (for bad or for good purposes) the city used to have which is noticeably absent in the post-Olympics reconstructed city.

Of course, another appealing aspect of this play is those who fall out of favour politically, and must resign their high position.  It has already happened provincially, and could just as easily (many hope) happen at the federal level.  Timing would be crucial, and having this play ready for Stephen Harper’s eventual downfall may prove difficult, but not impossible.  I have in mind a very talented director capable of adapting Shakespeare as well as staging engaging plays in live venues, but no way right now of getting in touch with him.  Of course, there is the added pressure of a new film version due in theatres who knows when starring Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler, but my inception of the play should have more relevance locally.

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