Wednesday, 21 April 2010

episode 14

"Even a wool merchant has not only to buy cheap and sell dear but also to ensure that the wool trade continues unimpeded. The pursuit of science seems to me to demand particular courage in this respect. It deals in knowledge procured through doubt. Creating knowledge for all about all, it aims to turn all of us into doubters. Now the bulk of the population is kept by its princes, landlords and priests in a pearly haze of superstition and old saws which cloak what these people are up to. The poverty of the many is as old as the hills, and from pulpit and lecture platform we hear that it is as hard as the hills to get rid of. Our new art of doubting delighted the mass audience. They tore the telescope out of our hands and trained it on their tormentors, the princes, the landlords, the priests. These selfish and domineering men, having greedily exploited the fruits of science, found that the cold eye of science had been turned on a primaeval but contrived poverty that could clearly be swept away if they were swept away themselves. They showered us with threats and bribes, irresistible to feeble souls. But can we deny ourselves to the crowd and still remain scientists? The movements of the heavenly bodies have become more comprehensible, but the people are as far as ever from calculating the moves of their rulers. The battle for a measurable heaven has been won thanks to doubt; but thanks to credulity the Rome housewife's battle for milk will be lost time and time again. Science, Sarti, is involved with both these battles. A human race which shambles around in a pearly haze of superstition and old saws, too ignorant to develop its own powers, will never be able to develop those powers of nature which you people are revealing to it. To what end are you working? Presumably for the principle that science's sole aim must be to lighten the burden of human existence. If the scientists, brought to heel by self-interested rulers, limit themselves to piling up knowledge for knowledge's sake, then science can be crippled and your new machines will lead to nothing but new impositions. You may in due course discover all there is to discover, and your progress will nonetheless be nothing but a progress away from mankind. The gap between you and it may become so wide that your cry of triumph at some new achievement will be echoed by a universal cry of horror. - As a scientist I had a unique opportunity. In my day astronomy emerged into the market place. Given this unique situation, if one man had put up a fight it might have had tremendous repercussions. Had I stood firm the scientists could have developed something like the doctors' Hippocratic oath, a vow to use their knowledge exclusively for mankind's benefit. As things are, the best that can be hoped for is a race of inventive dwarfs who can be hired for any purpose. What's more, Sarti, I have come to the conclusion that I was never in any real danger. For a few years I was a strong as the authorities. And I handed my knowledge to those in power for them to use, fail to use, misuse - whatever best suited their objectives."

Bertolt Brecht | LIFE OF GALILEO
Translated by John Willett | 1940/1980/1986
Galileo's speech in scene, episode, encounter, moon, nebula: # 14 ...

Why is it sometimes so very hard to let go of theatre? Why would we want to when there are opportunities and invites to perform, to do, further - for educational, theatrical, scientific, other, reasons... Life of Galileo is certainly one of two pieces created this past year which challenged the most, which proved the most impossible to understand and fathom audience engagement during its creation, but from which we all learnt the most. The company is at its boldest, most generous, most confident, most witty, most politically and scientifically engaged, most trusting - most daring - and kindest. Taking the production to Bad Wurzach, where our audience had studied the piece in German, in English translation, and then experienced it as live theatre, allowed for some tremendous opportunities of engagement, twinning, communication, sharing and trust. It has been a little time since all the universal elements of discovery, creation, adventure and play have conspired to offer up such a unique experience.

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