Rehearsing and Learning Brecht – curious arts

by Lily Climenhaga

Upon entering the rehearsal space for the upcoming production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera, one is immediately struck by the closeness and joviality of the team. Director Brian Deedrick, former artistic director of Edmonton Opera, brings an infectious level of enthusiasm and energy into rehearsal. Each day consists of slowly and carefully working through individual scenes in tremendous detail. For Deedrick, rehearsals consist of “taking a small piece [of the script] and dissecting it.” Thus, the ensemble is encouraged to develop an in-depth understanding of the script and identify the play’s complexities and subtleties.

Each actor plays multiple roles throughout the production and must develop their characters in each scene. Although this process is strenuous at times for actors, Deedrick never fails to bring laughter into the room by gently poking fun at his actors and himself.

Rehearsals have thus far led to some astounding discoveries. While past productions of Threepenny tended to focus on Brecht’s darker elements, Deedrick’s ensemble discovered comedy. “It’s really shattered my expectations of what I thought it would be,” says actor and BA Drama honors’ alumnus Mark Vetsch. “I mean, I’ve studied Brecht before and I didn’t expect it to be as tongue in cheek as it is. [Brecht] had never been explained to me like that before.” Weeks of rehearsal have revealed that Brecht’s well-known political and social themes act as a satirical commentary on the capitalist system of the 1920s that remains poignant even 90 years later.

Actor and assistant director Neil Kuefler describes the production as epic. This ‘epicness’, according to Kuefler, “is what makes it an adventure and challenging.” The actors are never alone embracing and incorporating this ‘epicness’. “It’s such a collaborative show,” Vetsch states, “if you take one person out the show couldn’t happen.”

Each actor brings a different level of experience, expertise and support, creating a truly cohesive and inclusive rehearsal environment. Whether one needs help with dialect, dance, music, German or all of the above, someone on the team is always there to lend a helping hand.

About Lily Climenhaga

Lily Climenhaga is currently in the final year of her Master of Arts in Drama, focusing on contemporary German theatre and the work of playwright Marius von Mayenburg. Typically Lily works as a dramaturge. Recent dramaturgical work includes The Comedian and The Young Revengers’ Society at 2014 New Works Festival (University of Alberta), The Unorthodox Adventures of Razz the Starchild (2014 University of Alberta), ABBEDAM’s Orestes 2.0 (2014), Grey Matters and Silence and the Machine at the 2015 New Works Festival, as well as past collaborations with the Geriactors. Additionally she assisted in the production of FaustIn and Out (2014) and Der Stein (2014) at Munich’s Residenztheater, as well as helping various young artists at the 2014 Rampenlichter Kinder und Jugend Tanz und Theater Fest. Acting work includes Great Expectations (2013) and a very brief appearance in White Bread’s (2014) European Tour in Innsbruck. She is extremely excited (and more than a little surprised) to be appearing for the first time on the Timms stage in Brecht’s Threepenny Opera

Presenter: U of A Studio Theatre
Event Title: The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht. Music by Kurt Weill. Libretto translation by Marc Blitzstein.
Featuring: UAlberta BFA Acting Class of 2015 with visiting performers, BFA stage management, theatre design and technical theatre students.
Dates: February 5 – 14, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Timms Centre for the Arts, University of Alberta
Single show tickets: $11 student, $22 adult, $20 senior available online now at TIX on the Square and at the Timms Centre box office one hour before each performance.

Director Brian Deedrick. Conductor & Musical Director Peter Dala. Sets & Lighting Design Robert Shannon. Costume Design Robyn Ayles
Sound Design Brian Maxwell. Choreography Marie Nychka. For full cast, creative team and production team see show page:

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