“The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” is a play written in 1941 by Bertolt Brecht. It warns about a demagogue coming to power in a democratic state. While Arturo Ui is a satirical story about nationalism in Germany, it bears a lot of resemblance to what is going on right now in the U.S. In true ironic fashion, Brecht wrote this play for the Americans he was hoping to join once he obtained a visa to escape the Nazis.
Here’s a basic summary: Ui is a gangster who sets his sights on gaining control of Chicago. He eventually does this through a series of less than reputable maneuvers and a lot of charisma and manipulation. He then sets his sights on taking over the rest of the country.
The play has been referred to as a “theatrical roller coaster ride that rivals the best CNN has to offer,” by Broadway World. Director Noam Shapiro leads a cast of eight actors, including: Matt Biagini, Aurora Heimbach, Alexander Rafala, Amanda Thickpenny, Matthew Van Gessel, Malka Wallick, Brittany N. Williams, and Kyle Michael Yoder.
To set the scene, audio clips of Trump are played, as well as references to his phrases and speech patterns. The colors of the campaign are red and white (with bright red hats) similar in style to that of the Trump campaign. While the play makes no direct claims to be referencing the current political climate, the timing and artistic choices speak for themselves.
It’s incredible that a play written in 1941 can still hold true more than 75 years later. It just goes to show that not a lot changes over time. As human beings, we never can get this whole “learn from history” thing down. And so it is, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.