The ocean flight
Just like The Battle for Heaven by Arno Schirokauer and Malmgreen by Erich Schäfer, the play is about a "tension between the individual, technical progress and the political or historical situation", whereby the so-called audio image tends to be experimental stage play at times. In this connection Brecht writes: “The didactic play teaches by being played, not by being seen. In principle, no spectator is required for the didactic play, but it can of course be used. ”In Brecht's radio theory it says:“ The ocean flight is of no value if one does not learn about it. It has no artistic value that justifies a performance that is not the purpose of this training. It is a subject of instruction and is divided into two parts. One part (the chants of the elements, the choirs, the water and engine noises and so on) has the task of making the exercise possible, that is to say to initiate and interrupt what is best done by an apparatus. The other educational part (the flying part) is the text for the exercise: The practitioner is the listener of one part of the text and the speaker of the other part. This creates a collaboration between the apparatus and the practitioner, whereby accuracy is more important than expression. The text is to be spoken and sung mechanically, at the end of each line of verse is to be removed, the part heard is to be read mechanically ”.
Brecht's didactic pieces are based on the idea that the player can be influenced by certain actions. Brecht said: "The state can best improve people's anti-social instincts by forcing them, which come from fear and ignorance, into a form that is as perfect as possible and that is almost unattainable for the individual". According to Brecht, his didactic pieces serve political education, presumably in the spirit of communism. Brecht uses the alienation effect as the most important stylistic device . This prevents the recipient from identifying with the characters in the game. Instead, he should develop a critical distance and his own judgment. The ocean flight was Brecht's first lesson. Then followed:
- The Baden lesson on consent (1929).
- The Yes-Sayer and the No-Sayer (1929/30).
- The measure (1929/30).
- The exception and the rule (1930–1938).
- The Horatians and the Curiatians (1934/35).
Motivation for changing the title
The ocean flight is also known under the earlier titles The Lindberghflug and The Flight of the Lindberghs . After the war, on the occasion of an inquiry by the Südwestdeutscher Rundfunkdienst , Brecht announced a new condition for the performance of the work, namely that the title would be changed to Der Ozeanflug and that all references to the name Lindbergh would be removed from the text. In his letter to the radio on January 3, 1950, Brecht wrote: “If you want to give a historical overview of the Lindberghflug, I must ask you to put a prologue in front of the broadcast and to make a few small changes in the text yourself. Lindbergh is known to have had close relations with the Nazis; his enthusiastic account of the invincibility of the Nazi Air Force at the time had a crippling effect in a number of countries. L. also played a dark role as a fascist in the USA. In my radio play, the title has to be changed to 'The Ocean Flight', you have to say the prologue and eradicate the name Lindbergh ”. Before the 1940 presidential election in the United States , Lindbergh was accused of staging a campaign against Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt as a Republican opponent .
Brecht was of the opinion that Charles Lindbergh was a sympathizer of National Socialism and even showed the "Hitler butchers" how to "fly deadly bombs", according to Brecht in the newly written prologue. Therefore, in the text it is no longer called Lindbergh, but instead, for example, "the aviator". The representation of the aviator “My name is Charles Lindbergh” has been changed to “My name is irrelevant”.
In the original version of the text for the Lindberghflug, the audience can still identify with the popular Atlantic aviator. Renaming the title and anonymizing the pilot avoids this effect. The ocean flight turns the heroic deed of an individual into the achievements of a team and gives the people involved a community experience that should lead to a new form of society. Instead of the hero, the aircraft and the forces of nature are personified who fight against the daring pilot, so that a verbal confrontation arises between the weather, the pilot, his machine and the continent of departure and arrival. In his new text, Brecht uses an alienation effect on the pilot, as he lets them see the transience that the memory of his undertaking has, but that does not affect his motivation. "With the ocean flight, Brecht believed that he had delivered a practical example of his demands for the improvement of broadcasting from a distribution to a communication apparatus. But the feedback loop of his staged communication is just as fixed as its place in capitalist non-communication in a little literary way Has".
The flight to the ocean is seen as an attempt to write a work of utility that has an educational effect. Brecht wanted to develop a new audience and during this time worked with amateur groups and leisure choirs. He was convinced that uneducated laypeople would be better suited to playing his roles.
In 1998 Robert Wilson staged the flight to the ocean at the Berliner Ensemble together with two texts by Heiner Müller and Fjodor Dostojewski . The meaning of this scenic trilogy is: "Human hope for the future, spurred on by technical progress, did not carry us far, but failed on a desert star after catastrophic self-destruction". In one review it is said that the clash between the fantastic picture theater of Robert Wilson and the pedagogy of Bertolt Brecht shattered the original. Individual parts are only visible in outlines, others are completely eliminated, such as the central scene of the ideology. Bernhard Minetti had his last role in this production .
In 2003 the University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart presented a studio production. Together with the audience, young women develop the plan to fly across the Atlantic and demonstrate ease by doing without everything that is not essential to life. "In conversation with the iron engine, the engine turns out to be a friend, the tough flyers can feel emotions for a moment just before their destination and show themselves as people, people who need love and suffer from loneliness".
In 2007, Chris Kondek staged the play Hier ist der Apparat , based on the ocean flight, in Berlin . The performers travel from radio to television to video games into a supposedly better world that media prophets have promised them. They accompany the first worldwide media superstar, Charles Lindbergh, seen through the eyes of the first German radio theorist, Bertolt Brecht.
A version of the piece staged in Greiz in 2010 addresses the belief in technology and technology mania. Right at the beginning of the performance, the plane crashes. The astronaut Ulf Merbold read the epilogue of the play.
In 2011, the ocean flight in Dresden was played in a tram traveling through the night. This production is about defeating everything that gets in your way. Your self must also be defeated for progress. The last words of the aviator are: "Please carry me to a dark shed so that nobody can see my natural weakness".
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