Gertrude Stein’s Brewsie and Willie

 

 

It is early 1946.  The war is over. The world has changed.  But what will it look like for the American GIs in liberated France who now wait for their redeployment? In the war’s aftermath, they have time to contemplate the forces that have brought them here.  They know they are faced with urgent new questions, but they are unsure of what will save them.  And so, on the cusp of a new era, they talk and confront their fears.  From the question of race in America to the legacy of British imperialism and the rise of the American dollar, from industrialization and job-mindedness to the fading of critical judgment in the modern world, Stein’s GIs leave nothing unquestioned.

Brewsie and Willie, the lead characters, are accompanied by other men who are similarly awaiting their orders. They are often joined by two nurses — smart self-confident women who have their own analyses and questions to put to the self-taught philosopher, Brewsie, and his militantly practical young comrade in arms, Willie.  What they say is as addressed to our own moment as it was to theirs, more than 65 years ago.

At the end of her life, after enduring two world wars, and having transformed the future of both art and American literature, Gertrude Stein had a change of heart. The result was Brewsie and Willie, a novella whose publication she did not live to see.  War demanded realism, she said, and so, after decades of literary cubism, she returned to the ordinary speech of ordinary people and gave them the task of speaking and re-imagining the world.  The characters of her novella voice the ideas that Stein herself had expressed in her memoir, Wars I Have Seen. In this adaptation, Rosalind Morris remains true to Stein’s language while giving the characters the depth and texture of living men and women. Without the angst of Sartre’s No Exit, and beyond the absurdism of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Gertrude Stein’s Brewsie and Willie is a brave confrontation with the twentieth century, seen from amid the ashes of its near destruction. It is also a prescient anticipation of the twenty first century—all from the perspective of working class men and women for whom history is, as Brewsie says, a life and death question.

The cast

 

Eric T. Miller as Brewsie
Billy Griffin as Willie

 

With

 

LeeAnne Hutchison as Pauline
Julia Watt as Janet
Andrew Ramaglia as Donald Paul
Karl Hammerle as Jimmie

 

Kyle Knauf as Jo
Harrison Hill as John
Lowell Byers as Sam
David Sedgwick as Brock

 

The Creative Team

 

Director: Rosalind Morris
Producer: Rosalind Morris
Screen adaptation written by: Rosalind Morris
Director of Photography: Milton Kam
Editing: Sara Zandieh
Casting: Judy Bowman Casting

 

Assistant Producer: Yvette Christiansë
Lighting Design: Rocco de Villiers
Co-Director, Acting: Amalia Zarranz
Art Director and Set Design Susan Zeeman Rogers
Camera 2 Operator: Lukasz Pruchnik
Assistant Camera: Jigme Tenzing
Sound Recording: Blair Johnson
Assistant Sound: Adam Rigby
Lighting Assistant: Mary Stazewski
Assistant Art Director: William Barrios
Production Assistant: Rey Grosz
Theater Coordinator: Michael Abamont
Chief Wardrobe: Sara Carvajal
Director, Hair and Makeup: Randolph Guzman
2nd Hair Stylist: Andrew Levin
Costume Supply: Kaufman’s Army and Navy
Hair and Makeup supply: Scott J Salons
Tango Consultant: Nora Nicolini

 

‘Rose Tango’ (La Via en Rose)

Music arranged and produced by: Rocco de Villiers
Piano: Rocco de Villiers
Accordion: Sergio Zampolli
Recorded and mixed by: Marius Brouwer, Pop Planet Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa

 

A Screen Actors Guild Film