Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 29

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS • VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 • SPRING 2018 HYPOCRITE, ACTOR, POLITICIAN ... OLGA TAXIDOU University of Edinburgh I n an astonishingly evocative scene from Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui—his 1941 allegory about the rise of Nazism and in particular its “charismatic,” demagogical leader—Arturo Ui receives lessons in performing political speeches, les- sons in “electrocution” as the play calls them, from a has-been actor. This scene can be read as part of a long genealogy of meta-theatricality, where the medium of performance itself is in many ways quoting the longue durée of the anti-theatrical legacy. What is Brecht doing here in injecting this meditation on Nazism with an equally pow- erful meditation on the impact of theatricality itself? Is he in some way undermining his own play? Is the art of acting itself open to such powers of manipulation and corruption? And if this washed-out actor can give lessons to a would-be dictator, how are we as the spectators of this scene protected from being manipulated by the play itself? Who has the last laugh here? Is there ethically and politically good acting and bad acting? In con- flating the roles of the actor and the politician, this scene foregrounds the constitutive relationships between the two. In a sense, this taps into the long-standing interface be- tween the “performative” as a philosophical/critical category and actual performance conventions. Does the style/manner/form of presentation and performance matter as much as the content itself? At the same time, the scene also quotes the equally entangled relationship between theatre and democ XK\X\[X\[Hۘ\Y]B\وX]H[X\[H[[ܘXKX8&\ۈ[و\XX]H\ٙ\YH\ۜ\HXݙH]Y\[ۜ˜[\ܝ^HYHوH][\܈Z[\\و[[ܘXH][]B[ZHYXۈ܈H\\و\YY^\[ۈ\HۙY][ۈ]\[H][\[[XۈHYK\\HY][ۈ\\]&\X\وKB]H[][[ܘ]X[X[ [Y[H[X[\HH\\[]8'X]BܘXK8'H H]]Y[H[K]X]X[XوH][Y[[\H\]Y[Y[[X[H[x&\XY\\X[\[X\^ MMJNH^Y\&\\K܈Xܸ&\•YYKX]ۘHX][ܝ\[ۚ[\]Y [BX]H\HYYJK[[XY[H\]X[X\\Hو^HXܙ8&\X[Y\•HY]HوHXXH NNMHNMJK \HYH]\H]XۚXX\BHYH] NNNNLx$MLLK]ܚ]\Έ8'H\][ۜوXH[[\\HH[YBYX ^H]\[H[\YH][]YH]H۝[\و]\X[][HۘZ]وZ\\][H\Y\ˈ\\ۘH[[]YY[\]H[HXK[H\X\[ۈ]^B[\]\[Y[\Hݙ\ZY۝HوH\ \\ܘXK\][^H[][ݙ\ZY۝HوH]YY[KHX]ܘXK'H ^H[\\\B܈H^\[K]X]X[]H\\X[]Y[[Z\[H[[\\وH\][X[X]HYB[H MMJK܈[Y[YX[ۜۈ\[ۈ]&\X]ܘXHYH\\ MKBN L N ZXKˌK