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Ben Stout

Acting I
Todd McNerney
11-14-96
Baal Of Desire
On Thursday, November 7, I saw a performance of Baal, written by Bertolt
Brecht and directed by Evan Parry. The play was not an emotional play, but an i
ntellectual play. It caused the viewer to think about the existentialist nature
of Brecht¹s writing and the underlying meaning of the play. Although I have studie
d existentialism and followed the play intently, I still could not fully underst
and what Brecht was trying to say through Baal. My interpretation is that Baal r
epresents man and his desires and what those desires can lead to.
At the beginning of the play, Baal is in good spirits and loved by all.
He has doors open to him; he is asked to publish his poetry and sing his songs a
t a bar. Through the play, his life gradually becomes worse because he drinks to
o much and has many girlfriends. People start to dislike him and he loses his ap
artment. Then more and more people start to dislike him and he moves from job t
o job and location to location with nothing but Ekart to see him through. But t
hen he realizes that he is finally in love - with Ekart, but she doesn¹t love him
and makes it obvious by having other men and women in her life. So, Baal kills h
er since he can¹t have her for his own. By the end, Baal has nothing but himself t
o blame for his condition. His drinking problem and his problem of seducing ever
y woman he meets drives him to his death, and causes everyone to repudiate him.
The acting ranged from not-so-great to very good. The only problem was t
hat since not all the actor¹s names were used, it was difficult to figure out who
was who in most cases.
Baal, played by Robert Seay, was in the very good part of the spectrum.
The amount of lined he had to memorize was great and he didn¹t stumble on them onc
e. His emotion was clear throughout the play and his focus was obvious. The way
he played drunk was great; his hair and shirt were disheveled, but he wasn¹t stumb
ling all over the place and slurring his words. He acted just like a drunk perso
n trying his hardest to pretend to be sober. When he spoke you understood what
he was feeling and saying because he spoke clearly, slowly and loudly which help
s, but he also understood what he was saying, which helped the audience understa
nd what he was feeling. At the end, when he was dying, the audience understood t
hat he was dying alone, with nobody to help him through and that his life had he
ld no meaning. The audience knew this because of his actions and because of the
tone of his voice.
Ekart was also very good. In the beginning, when she was trying to pers
uade Baal to sleep with her, she was seductive and conniving. She tempted him to
leave the woman who he made leave her husband for, but Baal resisted. Her tone
of voice was what I found to be her greatest asset because it told so much about
her. Her tone of voice made her objectives clear. Whenever she spoke, I found w
hat she wanted to be clear. Her movement was comfortable onstage which made it e
asier to watch her. It was easier because since she was comfortable, I wanted to
follow what she was doing at all times. When she was with Baal, she acted indif
ferent, and when she wasn¹t with Baal, it was obvious that she didn¹t care for him a
s much as he did for her because she was not faithful to him. In the end, she ac
ted the same way Baal did at the beginning. And the way she did it was with prec
ision, she indulged in whatever she did, just like Baal. I felt that Ekart¹s actin
g was very good because she was understandable and easy to follow.
The girls who shared words in sentences were also very good. The way the
y followed each other and the way they made their voices to sound the same was w
hat pleased me the most. There were no uncomfortable silences in between what ea
ch girl said, which meant that they were very well prepared. If they weren¹t as pr
epared, they wouldn¹t have been able to follow each other as well. Their preparati
on was also quite clear because there were no uncomfortable spaces in between wh
at each girl said. They did not have much physical acting to do, but the way the
y used their voices and the way they followed each other so well impressed me.
The acting in Baal was good; the acting ranged from the priest, who wasn¹t
all that great to Baal, Ekart and the chorus girls who were great. I found Baa
l to be interesting and realize the acting was difficult to take on, but it was
obvious who prepared the best for the play. Those who were prepared were good, b
ut those who weren¹t either didn¹t have a good performance or didn¹t warm up until lat
e in the play. Overall, I felt the acting and the play were both successful.

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