The adaption is the famous on which was brought to completion by Brecht himself, working with Charles Laughton, who played Galileo in the first two American productions of the play.
Play title: Galileo
Author (s): Bertolt Brecht and Charles Laughton
Publisher: Grove Press (Samuel French Inc.)
Publication Date: 1966
Primary Discipline: Astronomy
Secondary Discipline: Cosmology
Scientist (s): Galileo Galilei
Source Texts: Unknown
Character Breakdown: 27 men, 4 women
Galileo Galilei, Andrea Sarti (two actors: boy and man), Mrs. Sarti, Ludovico Marsili, Virginia Galilei, Sagredo, Federzoni, Mr. Priuli, Two Senators, Matti, Philosopher, Elderly Lady, Young Lady, Federzoni, Mathematician, Lord Chamberlain, Fat Prelate, Two Scholars, Two Monks, Infuriated Monk, Old Cardinal, Attendant Monk,Christopher Clavius, Fulganzio, Two Secretaries,Cardinal Barberini, Cardinal Bellarmin, Cardinal Inquisitor, Young Girl, Her Friend, Giuseppe, Ballad Singer, His Wife, Reveller, A Loud Voice, Informer, Town Crier, Official, Peasant, Customs Officer, Boy, Senators, Officials, Professors, Artisans, Ladies, Guest, Children.
Wordless Roles: The Doge and Prince Cosimo De’ Medici.
Setting: various locations in Renaissance Italy
Time Period: 1600-1640s roughly
Synopsis of Play: This version played at Lincoln Center with Charles Laughton. The time is of the emergence of the age of reason when Galileo was teaching young students the incredible account of how the earth moves around the sun, rather than the other way around. His heretical announcement, that both the moon and Jupiter only reflect the sun’s light, is brought to the attention of the church and Galileo is summoned to the Vatican. His friends abandon him and his appeal to the Pope is intercepted by the inquisitor. Galileo recants, but even while imprisoned continues his writings surreptiously. (Samuel French Inc, website)
First Performance Date: August 16, 1947
First Producer: John Houseman at The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Performance History: The production was directed by Jospeh Losey and starred Charles Laughton who collaborated with Bertolt Brecht on the script.
Reviewing the work of the Berlin Ensemble, Harold Clurman has written: “The play which most strongly stamped on my mind a sense of Brecht’s great stature as an artist of the theatre was Galileo.” And again: “Galileo is entirely contemporary in view of the events of our atomic age and in relation to certain problems of conscience.”
In an essay written expressly as the preface to the present edition, Eric Bentley has explored this contemporaneity further, showing the relation of the play to Brecht’s experience both of Hitlerism and Stalinism. The story of Oppenheimer and Chevalier is not too far away.
The adaption is the famous on which was brought to completion by Brecht himself, working with Charles Laughton, who played Galileo in the first two American productions of the play (Hollywood and New York, 1947). Since the play has become a classic of the world repertoire. (Play text cover blurb, Grove Press)
Entered by Denise Gillman/Brooke Sanders