These characteristics which Salten describes seem to relate to the concept of gestus, which is a difficult word to interpret but nevertheless has become the crucial link connecting Brecht's theories of acting, playwriting and theatrical production. In epic theatre, actors become demonstrators of a character, rather than the characters themselves (rather than using Stanislavsky's method of acting, which relies on an actor "stepping into a character's shoes"). Brecht intended his actors to always remember that they were playing another person's story and emotions. Most importantly, epic performers are always concerned with wider social relations, rather than the egoism of becoming wrapped up in one's character. Gestus expresses these wider social relations with "the idea of contradiction and opposition and the need to find a visible and theatrically effective way of expressing both opposites and the unity of these opposites" (Morley 186).
[...] Through the song and the following scene, the world of Threepenny Opera clearly emerges: no one is to be trusted, and anyone will betray anyone in order to earn their thirty pieces of silver. This idea connects with the next song, "The Second Threepenny Finale What Keeps Mankind Alive?" Dreigroschenfinale”), which ends Act Two. It is in this song that Brecht seems to become expressly political. It is actually composed of three separate systems. Ronald Sanders describes the first system as "appropriately stark . [...]
[...] Ferran and others are concerned mostly with the lyrical gestus of The Threepenny Opera, the lyrical gestus goes hand-in-hand with the musical gestus (as described by Weill and Taylor) in each song, and it is the combination of the two that makes the songs effective. These different gesti serve to create one large gestus, through which the piece's intentions and satirical social attitudes are conveyed to an audience. In order to show these attitudes musically, Weill deliberately rejected traditional Handelian opera and wrote a jazzy, syncopated, dissonant score, working in melodies from popular North and South American music, which were a fad in Berlin at the time (Fuegi 199). [...]
[...] The critique of capitalism in The Threepenny Opera became profitable, and not only for Weill and Brecht. Within weeks of the show's opening, a Groschen-Bar' opened in Berlin, which, as Franz Jung noted, attracted “whoever considered themselves part of culture” (qtd. in Hinton 58) and played only music from The Threepenny Opera. One store even sold Threepenny Opera wallpaper, so that a bourgeois fan could decorate a kitchen with pink and yellow images of the killer, Macheath, and his favorite prostitute, Jenny (Taylor 145). [...]
[...] The song is based on Senta's revenge ballad in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, and here Weill creates a similar “quasi-Wagnerian atmosphere of mystery and lofty expectation, translated into neurotic twentieth-century terms” (Sanders 117). The song has two contrasting sections: the breathless patter of the verse, in which Polly describes the actual process of killing the lot, and the slow, sustained, awe-filled description of the ships (the instruments of destruction) in the chorus. However, it would be a mistake to interpret this song as an empowering ballad for either women or the lower classes, as it has sometimes been described. [...]
[...] As Brecht wrote, this gives the end of the opera a sense of “consequence-less-ness” (qtd. in Ferran, since the final message of the opera is one that spurs the audience into action. But with all of its success (from the 1928 opening up to current productions), it still seems that the 1928 Berlin bourgeois audience satirized by Brecht and Weill either missed the satirical gestus of the play or reveled in it, using the play to justify its own corruption. [...]
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