The Life of Galileo

A battle for scientific freedom with contemporary resonance

In 1947 Bertolt Brecht, Germany’s greatest playwright and an avowed socialist, found himself in Hollywood working with the great British actor Charles Laughton—one of the more bizarre yet somehow fruitful artistic collaborations of the 20th century, resulting in the first production of Brecht’s The Life of Galileo. It’s not clear that Laughton completely understood Brecht’s political subtext, but he sure knew a good part when he saw it. The title character is a marvelous combination of scientific hero and selfish jerk—immoral, sly, and at times downright unsympathetic. None of his shortcomings are necessarily portrayed as failings, not least because Brecht himself was such a self-centered survivor. (Months after the production opened, the playwright was summoned to the HUAC Committee, where he gave one day of testimony and then fled the country.) Rosa Joshi, director of Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s new production, believes the play’s heroic insistence on scientific truth makes it resonant with current politics, at a time when stem cell research remains controversial and fundamentalists want to install “intelligent design” in our schools. Joshi calls it “the awakening of doubt as a powerful force. Galileo’s ideas are dangerous because they encourage doubt and have the potential to make the average person question authority. And that’s both timely and timeless.” Tim Hyland, who’ll be Joshi’s Galileo, is an actor with both a brawling physical presence and loads of smarts, and the company has proven adept at producing epic theatre on a modest budget. Preview 7:30 p.m. Thurs. Oct. 25, opens Oct. 26. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.; also Mon., Oct. 29 and Mon., Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Ends Nov. 18.

Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 5, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Oct. 25. Continues through Nov. 18, 2007

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