by Bertolt Brecht
translated by David Hare

directed by Michael Fera

A United Players of Vancouver production

at Jericho Arts Centre

September 7 - 30, 2018






Spotlight Article by Sabrina Furminger


Galileo Galilei is heralded as one of the most brilliant minds in human history, but there was a time when he was considered an enemy of humanity. 

This history plays out on stage in United Players of Vancouver’s production of The Life of Galileo. The gripping drama was written by Bertolt Brecht and adapted by Academy Award-winning dramatist David Hare. It follows the 16th century astronomer as he casts his telescope towards the stars and discovers the four moons of Jupiter, thus shattering the widely held belief that everything in the universe – the Sun, moon, stars, and planetary bodies – revolves around human beings and Earth.

Galileo’s revolutionary discoveries – as well as his excitement around scientific inquiry, and his unshakeable belief in reason – invite a tidal wave of derision and accusations of blasphemy from those whose authority rests on a strictly biblical understanding of the universe. Leading the charge: The Cardinal Inquisitor, who, 10 years previous, had executed a man for teaching Copernican theory. As Galileo appeals for reason, The Cardinal Inquisitor builds his case…

The Life of Galileo brings its audiences into the mind, spirit, and flaws of a man well ahead of his time, whose determination to look beyond this world – at great personal cost – ushered in the Scientific Revolution.

According to Michael Fera, director of United Players of Vancouver’s production of The Life of Galileo, Brecht’s essential play is “one of the biggest I’ve ever tackled, because of the debates: the Church versus Galileo, and Galileo versus the Church.” Fera notes parallels between Galileo’s feud with the Church and contemporary discussions around controversial issues like climate change. “Science can prove that we’re in a big pickle [on the issue of climate change], and yet some sides really try to downplay it,” he says. “It’s all about power. You can see why the play is a classic, and how much it speaks to a 2018 audience.”

The Life of Galileo is mostly faithful to the real-life Galileo, says Fera. “In terms of how insatiable he was in his quest to discover the truth, it’s spot-on,” he says. For his Galileo, Fera cast United Players veteran Michael Vairo (last seen as Jacob in Ghosts). “Galileo has a passion that is fanatical, and I wanted somebody who has a little bit of anger in him, and a little bit of feistiness, and a lot of passion,” says Fera. “Mike, as an actor, brings those qualities.”

Brecht’s play has a lengthy list of characters, but Fera has divided the many roles amongst seven actors (Vairo being the exception). Fera calls this choice “very Brecht,” adding that the production is “also very Brecht in that we’re not going to be hiding any of the scene changes. We’re not hiding any of the costume changes. We’re announcing scenes.” Fera’s intention with these choices is to elevate the story and the characters, and to inspire audiences to “come away seeing what a great playwright Bertolt Brecht is, and to come away asking questions. I want to create discussion. They’re in for a very theatrical presentation. It’s going to be a fun show to watch.”


United Players’ production of The Life of Galileo features Michael Vairo as Galileo, and Trisha Li, Chelsea Huang, Alesandria Mentari, Richard Hersley, Helen Volkow, Matt Loop, and Aidan Wright portraying multiple roles apiece.

The production team includes Michael Fera (Director), Andree Karas (Executive Producer), Michael Methot (Technical Director), Matt Loop (Producer), Joan Bryans (Producer), Maria Denholme (Stage Manager), Todd Parker (Set Designer), C.S. Fergusson-Vaux (Costume Designer), Harika Xu (Lighting and Projection Designer), Mike Kovac (Fight Director), Ryan McNeill Bolton (Fight Director), Frances Herzer (Props), Josina de Bree (Props), Zakk Harris (Sound Designer), John Taylor (Head Carpenter), and Joseph Makarov (Assistant Stage Manager).


Michael Fera’s favourite directing credits include Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding (Vancouver, Seattle, Winnipeg, Edmonton), Dancing in the Light at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Alleycats, the 2003/04 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Balthazar and the Mojo Star, three heads talking, The Belle of Amherst, Macbeth, Life After Hockey, and the Canadian premieres of Corpus Christi, Molly Sweeney, and Alistaire Elliot’s translation of Medea. For nine years, Michael was an executive director with the Ailanthus Achievement Centre and he is a recipient of the 40 Under 40 Business in Vancouver Award. Michael is co-artistic director of Hoarse Raven Theatre; together, Michael and the company have received a number of Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nominations (Significant Artistic Achievement, Outstanding Production and Outstanding Performance). Michael directed The Herbal Bed, Tartuffe, Boston Marriage, The Imaginary Invalid, and Ghosts for United Players.


German dramatist Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was one of the most influential playwrights of the 20th century. His works include The Threepenny Opera (1928) with composer Kurt Weill, Mother Courage and Her Children (1941), The Good Person of Szechwan (1943), and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (1958). His plays were banned in Germany in the 1930s, and in 1933, he went into exile, first in Denmark and then Finland. He moved to California in 1941, hoping to write for Hollywood, but he drew the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Although he managed to deflect accusations of being a Communist, he moved to Switzerland after the hearings. He relocated to East Berlin in 1949 and ran the Berliner Ensemble, a theatre company. As a director, he advocated the “alienation effect” in acting – an approach intended to keep the audience emotionally uninvolved in the plights of the characters.

David Hare is an English playwright, screenwriter and theatre and film director. His plays include 1978’s Plenty (which he adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep in 1985), Racing Demon (1990), Skylight (1997), and Amy's View (1998). Other notable stage projects include A Map of the World, Pravda, Murmuring Judges, The Absence of War and The Vertical Hour. Hare has been nominated for multiple Academy Awards (for The Hours and The Reader), Golden Globe Awards, and Tony Awards, and has won a BAFTA Award, a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and two Laurence Olivier Awards. He received the Golden Bear in 1985. He was knighted in 1998.

-With files from Wikipedia and The Poetry Foundation


At the Jericho Arts Centre - 1675 Discovery (near Jericho Beach)

September 7 - 30, 2018

Thursday through Sunday, at 8 pm
(2pm only on September 16, 23 & 30)

$14 Preview: September 6
Talkback: September 13

Matinees: September 16, 23 & 30 at 2pm
(no evening performances on those dates)

Single Tickets: $22 - $28

Jericho Arts Centre

1675 Discovery Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4K5

TICKETS:Online or call 604 224 8007, ext. 2

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