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Promiscuity reigns in Brecht’s ‘Baal’

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Daniel Ramirez, senior theater major, and Jessie Bias, sophomore theater major, star in ULV’s adaptation of “Baal.” Directed by Bo Powell, the play was shown at the Dailey Theatre last weekend. Ramirez plays Baal, a poet who goes through different forms of addiction including sex, alcohol and being one with nature. He takes an interest in and seduces the innocent, pure Johanna, played by Bias. / photo by Alexandra Arkley

Daniel Ramirez, senior theater major, and Jessie Bias, sophomore theater major, star in ULV’s adaptation of “Baal.” Directed by Bo Powell, the play was shown at the Dailey Theatre last weekend. Ramirez plays Baal, a poet who goes through different forms of addiction including sex, alcohol and being one with nature. He takes an interest in and seduces the innocent, pure Johanna, played by Bias. / photo by Alexandra Arkley

Cody Luk
LV Life Editor

Murder, sex and alcohol are three issues a poet is confronted with in the German play “Baal,” written by Bertolt Brecht and translated into English by Peter Mellencamp.

It is also the senior performing thesis of theater major Daniel Ramirez, who plays the title character, and senior directing thesis of theater major Bo Powell.

“Baal” is about an alcoholic poet who is involved with many sexual affairs. The play ran from March 26 to 29 in Dailey Theatre.

Problems of sexual addiction and alcoholism are depicted in the play from the first scene.

Ramirez’s ceaseless emotions and powerful articulation draw in the audience from the beginning.

The play starts with a dramatic opening in which Baal crumbles and throws papers continuously while delivering lines that give insights to his character.

He prides himself in feeling alive when he is drunk and he views women as sexual objects.

Baal constantly throws sexual remarks and tries to seduce every woman he encounters, regardless of whether they are his friends’ girlfriends or if they are married.

He has sex with Johanna (played by sophomore theater major Jessie Bias), an innocent 17-year-old girlfriend of his friend Joe (played by junior theater major Jordan Klomp).

However, when asked if he loves her, Baal does not answer and Johanna runs away crying. She is later discovered dead after jumping into a river to commit suicide.

Later on, Baal promises a future with Sophie (played by 19-year-old La Verne resident Kennedy Reyanne), and they seem to be in love. However, Baal quickly grows tired of Sophie and tells her to die even though she is pregnant with his child.

Baal is also in love with the idea of living outdoors and appreciating nature, showing his desire to be free.

His ideal way of living is similar to his friend Ekhart (played by junior music major Dylan Peruti) and they live freely together until Baal strangles and kills Ekhart.

As everyone around Baal is scared of him or has died, no one cares as Baal is dying at the end of the play, even when he begs for people to stay with him as he dies.

Although Baal is portrayed as a man with a long list of mistakes and immoral acts, toward the end of the play, the policemen reveal there is another side to Baal as they talk about Baal while searching for him after Ekhart is murdered.

Baal unconditionally risks his life carrying wood for an old lady, causing him to almost be caught by the police.

Baal’s promiscuity acts as a persona of a man powerful enough to seduce any woman, when it is actually a façade of a weak man without a sense of identity nor acceptance in society.

Baal is insecure and he uses women and substances in attempts to feel in control of his chaotic life. He abandons them quickly and moves on to another target.

Powell describes the play as “a show about trying to find comfortability in one’s own skin” in the Director’s Note.

Powell also writes that many people today are similar and would rely on technology, drugs and relationships to feel comfortable.

Powell ends his Director’s Notes with “Please don’t be like Baal.”

The sensational elements were powerful in portraying the struggles Baal faces that eventually lead to his downfall as an anti-hero.

The play successfully depicts how addiction does not improve life but would eventually completely take over someone’s life.

The appalling scenes are memorable and the audience walked away from the play reflecting on how easy it is for humans to become like Baal if they do not take control of their lives and let themselves fall victim to addictions.

Cody Luk can be reached at cody.luk@laverne.edu.

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