For the centenary celebration of composer Kurt Weill's birth, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) will present a new production of Bertolt Brecht and Weill's Happy End. Twelve performances will take place in the galleries of MOCA at The Geffen Contemporary, Feb. 23-27 and March 1-5, 2000.
Described as a melodrama of songs, Happy End is an archetypal love story between a hard-nosed gangster and a Salvation Army missionary in which "the despair of a lonely criminal is matched by the sorrow of a downcast saint."
Brecht and Weill were intrigued by American culture and Happy End is informed by the cinema, particularly Hollywood gangster movies of the 1920s.
Both artists fled Hitler's Germany and came to the United States. Following their successful collaboration Threepenny Opera, Brecht and Weill partnered again in 1928 to create Happy End.
Directed by Randee Travitz, the MOCA production will utilize live action, film/video/slide projectors, puppetry, masks and shadow play, backed by a blend of live, pre-recorded and sampled music. Featured singer-actress Weba Garretson will deliver the songs of Happy End with contemporary arrangements by Eastside Sinfonietta.The production will also combine museum-going and theatrical experience. The audience will not be seated in a traditional single position, but will instead move through the galleries as the play proceeds. "Can a song have the same impact as an amazing painting?" asked Trabitz. "Our intention to entertain and provoke is the same as Brecht's. As his techniques have become more familiar, we hope to find new ways to peak audience perceptions by shifting the frames through which they see and hear."
MOCA is located at 152 N. Central Ave. in downtown L.A. For tickets and information call (213) 626-6828.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent