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by Yolanda Seabourne Tuesday, May. 08, 2012 at 4:38 PM 323-309-3818

Early Brecht comedy, re-imagined for the 21st century, explores the allure of camaraderie in wartime and celebrates the vitality and loyalty of brotherhood.

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Uranium Madhouse, the Los Angeles theater cabal, is preparing a world-premiere production of a new translation of Bertolt Brecht’s "A Man’s a Man." In cooperation with the Brecht estate, Uranium Madhouse Artistic Director Andrew Utter has created a fresh translation of the text for modern audiences. Utter will also direct his new translation. The 1926 comedy follows the antic encounter of an affable dockhand who is inducted into a group of soldiers after their foolhardy quest for beer money goes awry and they must replace one of their own with the guileless civilian.

Armed with a PhD in German Literature from Stanford University in addition to an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama, Utter aims to re-imagine the twentieth century play as a twenty-first century spectacle.

With support from The International Brecht Society, The Goethe Institut of Los Angeles, and Stanford’s Department of German Studies, the Uranium Madhouse production will open at Atwater Village Theater July 13, 2012.

Traditional interpretations of the play stress its anti-war message and its theme of increasing depersonalization in the modern age. In the new production, Utter will explore the forces that bring soldiers together in wartime and the allure of such camaraderie to the outsider. As he explains, “'A Man’s A Man' celebrates the vitality and loyalty that comprises this bond of brotherhood, even as it looks at the costs and dangers of building a collective around force and aggression. More broadly, the play investigates the way in which we are all challenged by conflicts between self-determination and the demands of the larger groups and structures with which we identify.”

Of other themes, the director says “The play looks at the way that people are asked to make choices in life with incomplete knowledge of their situation, and other pressure from others. It may be opportunity knocking, or a confidence man (or woman!). Choices are made; unforeseen consequences accrue; and fortunes are gained and lost. All of this is true to an exponential degree in our age of information overload, where the wrong click can lead to identify theft and the right one can lead to a windfall beyond dreams.”

Utter goes on to explain his vision for the physical expression of the play, “We laugh at the soldiers’ audacity, ingenuity, irreverence and general rambunctiousness, at the way they evolve an elaborate game of blind man’s bluff for the protagonist. There is a carnivalistic quality, a kind of lust-for-life embodied in these revels that has something in common with the ethos of punk rock and also of the Full Metal Jacket attitude of post-Viet Nam war cinema. I am working with Uranium Madhouse Resident Designer Erik Flatmo to develop a production that draws inspiration from sources like Burning Man, the Mad Max movies, Apocalypse Now, and the music of Blink-182 and Tom Waits. In short, A Man’s A Man offers Uranium Madhouse an ideal opportunity to bring to the stage its theatrical priority of a vitalizing, animating madness.”

“I founded Uranium Madhouse out of the conviction that the radioactive power of the viscerally activated actor and the encounter with the madness of contemporary life through dramatic literature can be powerful sources of renewal and inspiration for the community.”

For more information about the company as well as a complete list of the company’s Advisory Board and Associate Artists, visit


Yolanda Seabourne
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