by Bertolt Brecht
English version by Charles Laughton
directed by Jon Lee
with Jeff Merrifield as Galileo
Considered by many to be one of Brecht's masterpieces,
Galileo explores the question of a scientist's social and ethical
responsibility, as the brilliant Galileo must choose between his
life and his life's work when he is confronted with the demands
of the Inquisition. Through his characterisation of the famous
physicist, Brecht examines the issues of scientific morality and
the difficult relationship between the intellectual and authority.
Brecht's Galileo is not a hero - he is a man who
loves life so much he is compelled to investigate its wholesome
nature. Though he saves his own skin from the rigours of the Inquisition,
he also saves his work for posterity, not to be of benefit to
him in his own lifetime, but on behalf of future humankind.
In an age where the demands of orthodoxy increasingly
permeate most strata of society, where the rebel or maverick is
regarded as heretical, those attitudes that restricted Galileo
in his work are once more to the fore. In recent times, respected
scientists such as Jacques Benveniste, who championed the dilution
basis of homeopathic medicine, and Linus Pauling, who quite credibly
researched the curative properties of Vitamin C, have both been
branded 'heretics' by the mainstream scientific orthodoxy, as
represented by Nature magazine and other professional journals.
The version of the play used in this production
is the famous one that was brought to completion by Brecht himself,
working with Charles Laughton, who played Galileo in the first
two American productions, in Hollywood and New York during 1947.
Since then, the play has become a classic in the repertoire of
This production in directed by Jon Lee, from the
Drama Centre and features a cast of largely professional actors
working alongside people from the local community. The jovial
nature of the man that was Galileo permeates the production, contrasting
this joviality with the intense pressure brought to bear in order
to crush his freewheeling ideas.
EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL 2005
Visit the Galileo
Project website for more information on the man.
Visit this Brecht
site for more information on the play.
Review Essex Chronicle Go Supplement
TO ACTOR-DIRECTOR DIALOGUES