The Measures Taken

Premiére date30 May. 2007
Produced byTore Vagn Lid/Transiteatret Bergen
CoproducersBergen International Festival, BIT Teatergarasjen
Based onThe Measures Taken by Bertolt Brecht
ExpressionsMusical theatre, Apprentice play, Theatre
Running period30 May. 2007  —  2 Jun. 2007

About The Measures Taken

Die Maßnahme by Tore Vagn Lid /Transiteateret (Norway). The Measures Taken (Die Maßnahme) from 1930 is one of modern music theatre’s most daring aesthetical and political experiments, written by Bertolt Brecht with music by Hanns Eisler. The performance at Teatergarasjen during the 2007 Bergen International Festival was not only the Norwegian but also the Nordic premiere of the work in its entirety. It was also one of a very few times the complete scenic oratorio of Brecht and Eisler met an audience after it was prohibited performed during the 1950es.

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Vokalensemblet Skrik v/ Jon F Blichfeld
Forsvarets musikkorps vestlandet

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More about The Measures Taken

The Measures Taken – a learning play in form of an oratorio

Hanns Eisler and Bertolt Brecht’s The Measures Taken (original title in German: Die Maßnahme) (1929/30) is – despite many misunderstandings – not a theatrical play, nor a piece of music. Rather it revolves around an expansive music dramatic experiment, a meeting between Brecht and Eisler – between theatre modernism and musical modernism – composed in an even collaboration, bar by bar, word by word. As a scenic musical work The Measures Taken takes the shape of a political oratorio, written for a large choir, orchestra, tenor and three actors. Even thought the work as a whole was prohibited performed in 1954, a prohibition absolute until 1998, textual excerpts have been available and have been made to material for a number of scenic, text based performances inside and outside of Germany. Insofar as it has been possible to find out, this is not valid for the Eisler/Brecht oratorio The Measures Taken, which during the Bergen International Festival 2007 was staged in an outmost rare performance since the prohibition came into operation during the mid-1950es.

Are you aware of the consequences of what you choose – or do not choose? Are you ready to bear the burden in its outmost consequence?

In The Measures Taken four agitators have returned home to take themselves to court: Their political mission succeeded, but during it they shot one of their comrades, and they now ask the court – interpreted by the choir – to judge. To argue the necessity of the measures taken they show how the comrade acted in different political situation. The following will be disputed: Which are the costs the individual have to pay for taking part in a collective act, political or not? How much liberty has the one measured up against the others and against the common goal? What will be the consequences if one changes one’s mind to choose otherwise during the process, and – as with Brecht – chooses to stop the small injustice rather than the larger injustice, for instance by undermining a strike to help one single worker? Can the compassion for one single person lead to – or legitimate – the downfall of many? Can acting spontaneously and emotionally to help one person from being beaten legitimate that more than one are beaten, or that the abuse continues – in hide?

Facts about The Measures Taken:

Opened in Berlin December 13 1930 as a political oratorio with obvious references to J. S. Bach’s "St. Matthew’s Passion". An immediate artistic success nevertheless exposed for strong critic from the political right as well as the Marxist left. The work was stopped and prohibited by the Nazi party in Erfurt in 1933. In the polarised climate of the Cold War, and under pressure from the DDR regime’s ‘socialist realism in art’ dogma, Brecht/Eisler chose to prohibit the work from and in operation from 1954. Towards the end of his life – asked where he sees the preface to the theatre of the future, Brecht answers: The Measures Taken.


BIT Teatergarasjen, vårprogram 2007.09.09.2010:

Transiteatret-Bergen,, 01.08.2010,