Jonas Mekas/The Living Theatre: The Brig 1964

Jonas Mekas/The Living Theatre: The Brig 1964

The Brig is a play written by former U.S. Marine Kenneth H. Brown (born 1936). It was first performed in New York by The Living Theatre on 13 May 1963 [1] with a production of it filmed in 1964 by Jonas Mekas. It has been revived in New York in 2007. It received an Obie Award.
The play depicts a typical day in a United States Marine Corps military prison called The Brig. Brown spent thirty days in a Brig for being Absent Without Official Leave whilst he was with the Third Marines in Camp Fuji Japan in the 1950s.” (wikipedia)

I saw this film in an all-night session on experimental ‘underground’ film at the BFI in the early 1970s. The staccato, dehumanised, robotic actions and the rigid military choreography and cruelty of the plot, reminded my of Antonin Artaud and his ideas of the Theatre of Cruelty. This movie is a visceral shock to the system, a saraband for McCarthyism, a premonition of the war in Vietnam, an essay of military elite training.

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