The Downfall of Egotist J. Fatzer
Nitery Theater, Stanford University, February 2015
Photo Credit: Frank Chen
Fragment by Bertolt Brecht
Translated, Adapted & Directed by Jessi Piggott
"In the morally denuded time of the First World War, a story of four men took place, ending with the utter downfall of all four, but revealing, amidst murder, perjury and degeneracy, the bloody traces of a new kind of morality. In the third year of the war, four men occupying a tank disappeared turing an attack near Verdun. The four men were thought dead and in early 1917, they secretly surfaced in Mühlheim, where one of them had a basement room. From then on, living under the constant threat of being seized as derserters and shot, they had a very difficult time providing sustenance, all the more so because there were four of them. All the same, they decided not and never to part ways, since their only prospect rested on the senseless war ending through a general revolution of the people. The four hoped to be able to help in this revolution they were expecting." --Chorus, Fatzer
Produced as part of the TAPS 2nd Year Grad Showcase, this 50-minute adaptation of Brecht's unfinished Fatzer fragment was awarded a distinction by the Stanford TAPS faculty.
"Close up your ears, for you will
Hear nothing human.
What help is it to know
Who butchers whom, when both
Are sure to die?"
--Bertolt Brecht, Fatzer Fragment
Pictured: Lillian Bornstein (Busching), Lily Lamboy (Cook), Maggie Medlin (Fatzer), Raquel Orendain Shrestha (Mellerman), Erich Eich (SM/Chorus) | Photo Credit: Frank Chen
Noemi Berkowitz, "'The Downfall of Egotist J. Fatzer': A hilarious, clever and nontraditional exploration of Brecht, war, and gender." Stanford Daily, 23 February 2015.
Theater Editorial Board, "Top 5 Stanford Theater Productions of 2015." Stanford Daily, 12 January 2016.
“With Piggott’s mastery of Brecht’s famous Verfremdungseffekt and a cast of rowdy revolutionary soldiers all played by women in drag, 'Fatzer' emerged as one of the few on campus productions to contribute to the ongoing intellectual debate about what theater is and how it can be used to make audiences think critically about their own respective places in history”
-- Stanford Daily
Lily Lamboy and Raquel Orendain Shrestha | Photo Credit: Frank Chen
In his commentary on the Fatzer fragment, Brecht left a brusque piece of advice (as messy in German as it is in English): “Simply smash it to pieces, the whole play, since indeed impossible, for experimentation, without reality, for self-understanding.” This invitation to take up Brecht’s work in raw form, smash it up, and experiment was precisely the kind of provocation ideal for a university project. To take up this challenge has been one of the most exciting and educational experiences of my career. Perhaps because of the wealth of tasks this project demanded—from archival research to translation, dramaturgy to direction, devising to designing—forming a coherent narrative from all the fragmented pieces of this process seems impossible. In lieu of any such forced unity, on the following pages I’d like to offer some fragments of my own.
Fatzer, select scenes from dress rehearsal