Brecht In Los Angeles

Peter Wollen at New Left Review:

The exile Bertolt Brecht arrived in Los Angeles on 21 July 1941, and was taken by friends to a small house in Hollywood found for him by the director William Dieterle and his wife. Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane had recently premiered in New York, on 1 May. On his previous short visit to the United States, in connection with the New York opening of his play The Mother in 1935, Brecht had met the composer Marc Blitzstein through Hanns Eisler, who was teaching at the New School for Social Research. Blitzstein had played one of his new songs to Brecht and Brecht had advised Blitzstein to go ahead and write a full-scale opera. The result was Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock, which was dedicated to Brecht and directed on stage by Orson Welles. A decade later, in 1946, Brecht saw Welles’s production of Cole Porter’s Around the World in Boston and went backstage afterwards to announce that, ‘This is the greatest thing I have seen in American theatre. This is wonderful. This is what theatre should be.’ Subsequently Brecht tried to persuade Welles to direct his own new play, Galileo. Welles was keen to do it but negotiations broke down over the role of Mike Todd, with whom Welles had become involved as his producer. Instead, it was Joseph Losey who directed Galileo.

more here.