Gertrude Stein based her text for Brewsie and Willie on encounters with G.I.s in Paris at the end of World War II, and this powerful adaptation reveals how relevant it remains today. A disparate group of American soldiers and nurses wait in limbo to return to their homeland and an uncertain future: What work will they have? What will America’s future be? And what is their place in it?
Under the direction of Travis Preston, timeless concerns of a post-war generation are vibrantly embodied by members of performance collective Poor Dog Group to explore the hearts and minds of a generation for which “home” has ceased to be familiar. Set in an empty loft against the backdrop of downtown Los Angeles, this layered production draws live-feed video and original music into the mix.
Written by author Gertrude Stein as a short novel almost exclusively in dialogue form, Brewsie and Willie is a portrait of class anxiety – the class that fights our wars and is then left to grapple with the anxiety of return to the larger American culture. World War II has just ended, and Brewsie, Willie, and an array of their fellow soldiers and nurses are in some border-less, undefined space, waiting to return to the United States and civilian life. This period of aimless R&R becomes a space of reflection and thoughtfulness – and of vast concern over their future lives back in the US.
“This is essential theater, if anything is,” said the Stage and Cinema review. “It is evidence, in fact, that miracles are indeed possible in the theater. Yes, it’s a miracle, pure and simple. That’s what it is.”
In June, 2011, CNP was invited by the RADAR LA Festival to remount its 2010 production of Brewsie and Willie.