This February, the Northeastern Department of Theatre explores the paradox of a society where violence is the rule and justice is the exception with The Exception and the Rule by the famed German playwright Bertolt Brecht. This unflinching modern parable follows the journey of an unscrupulous entrepreneur and his mistreated servant across a vast desert to a city where the merchant hopes to acquire massive new wealth. A misunderstanding results in murder, but who is responsible — the oppressor or the oppressed?
The production developed entirely by undergraduate students runs from February 6-10 in the Ryder Theatre Lab and is free and open to the public. It is directed by Pablo Hernandez Basulto, CAMD ’18. Hernandez Basulto is a fifth-year Theatre major with an interest in theatre for social change. Originally from Cuernavaca, Mexico, he has did a co-op at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge working with Anna Deveare Smith on her docudrama Notes from the Field. His second co-op was with Augosto Boal’s theatre company at People’s Palace Projects in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Boal is the founder of the movement known as Theatre of the Oppressed. After graduation, Basulto intends to pursue theatre for social change, and chose to direct The Exception and the Rule as his senior capstone project to apply the theories he has studied to an actual performance.
When looking at the process thus far, Hernandez Basulto says, “The most challenging part of this process has been balancing theory with practice, trusting my rational side with my gut, and trusting my instincts while also questioning my knowledge of the play. At the same time, it has been very exciting to work on a bigger project where I get to collaborate with so many artists, fellow peers, who nurture and develop my understanding of the play.”
He adds, “One of my biggest lessons throughout my years at Northeastern has been understanding the way oppression operates. As artists, I strongly believe in our responsibility to address not only the symptoms of oppression, but also the causes. I chose this play now because I believe it speaks about both causes and symptoms very eloquently and provocatively. Even more, I chose it because I believe it will spark discussion about our share of guilt and responsibility, and the way we can impact our Northeastern community.”
The production features a design team made up entirely of Northeastern students: Kaley Bachelder, CAMD ’19, Assistant Director and Dramaturg; Garrett Finn, DMSB ’19, Composer; Anthony Giordano, COE ’18, Music Director; Non Kuramoto, CAMD ’18, Scenic and Costume Designer; and Michelle Walker, CAMD ’20, Lighting Designer.
Eugen Berthold Friedrich “Bertolt” Brecht was a controversial German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet of the early 20th century. His plays include: Mother Courage and Her Children, The Life of Galileo, Man Equals Man, The Threepenny Opera, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, and The Good Woman of Setzuan.
Brecht is credited with the creation and development of Epic Theatre. One of the main aims of Epic Theatre was to tell the story in a simple and direct fashion so that the audience can be stimulated to think about the political and moral consequences of the events that they saw on stage. Brecht’s plays invite the audience to be active participants and examine social injustice and exploitation.