HE WHO SAYS YES. HE WHO SAYS NOTeatr-Teatr, Perm
Director: Andreas Merz
Set designer: Irina Romashko
In this production from Perm, a young German director Andreas Merz professes the early-Brechtian ideas of producing ‘insightful’ plays.
Paradoxically, these two plays by Bertolt Brecht are translated into Russian for the first time. They were produced in Perm by the young German director Andreas Merz-Raikov, almost meticulously professing early Brecht’s ideas of “teaching plays” . The authentic method coming from the 1930-s turns out to be an exciting experiment for Russian repertory theater actor. Here one can find modern opera (music by Kurt Weil), maximal intellectualism, the Marxist ideas, non-dialogue setting, as well as mounting production. As the basis for both plays having the same story but in different interpretations Brecht uses the Japanese drama of the XVI century. In this drama the tribe having convinced themselves in acting rightly sacrifices one of their members on for the public good. Brecht is interested in the following question: at what point do people begin to justify the obvious evil and people become “consentient to”? A simple, even schematic play by Brecht is staged by means of a complex multi theatrical language and discusses serious topics. When it comes to human life there are no precedents, each new situation must be pondered anew.
The credo of Brecht’s play “He Who Says Yes, He Who Says No” invites us to think seriously about the following questions: ‘Do we really agree with what we are doing and what is happening around us? Or are we making ambiguous compromises?” What does it mean to live in accordance with this idea, to be consistent in your actions and always take full responsibility not only for yourself but also for the whole of society?
History shows that every ideology states that it operates for the benefit of the people, but in the course of the play we see that ideology cannot care about a particular person, it sees him as an obstacle and even has to take a stand "against him": one boy falls ill during a rescue mission, and the mission should leave him alone in the mountains in order to save the village. Who is right, the society that takes responsibility for the majority, or the boy who is threatened with death?
The main value of this Brecht’s piece for me is that it does not give a definite answer, it is not identified with any certain position. It plays with the question showing us different perspectives and allowing us to try on any of them in order to understand different motivations and thus, realize the tragedy of the play.