Arturo Ui gets an Aussie Twist

Michael Sams and Brendan O'Connor in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui IMAGE: Chrissy Maguire

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui will take a uniquely Australian twist at the hands of Theatre iNQ this May.

The political satire written by Bertolt Brecht warned of Hitler’s rise to power. Brecht considered the Nazi Party to be gangsters and gave them a mobster make-over in his work. Now, Theatre iNQ is taking it a step further, transporting the action to Gangland Australia.

Artistic Director Terri Brabon said the adaptation had taken a multi-pronged approach.

“The translations I found just weren’t working for me so I approached the Bertolt Brecht Trust with an idea to change the setting,” said Terri.

“I wanted to move away from the Chicago setting and place our version in the Australian Gangland.  I mean, we had some pretty horrific gangsters in Australia during the 30’s as well. 

“My dear friend and colleague Phil Lambert, who many in Townsville will know as an actor, translated the script from the original German and then I set about putting Aussie Slang into poetic iambic pentameter. It’s been quite a challenge but one that I’ve really enjoyed.  I’ve become re-acquainted with some great sayings and found some interesting new expressions as well. Some that you can’t say in polite society but whoever said Hitler was polite society?”

Badaidilaga Maftuh-Flynn and Robert Street in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui IMAGE: Chrissy Maguire

The timing of Theatre iNQ’s production of Arturo Ui has proven eerily relevant as Russia stormed across Ukraine while Terri and the team worked.

“Theatre Companies all over the world were staging this show when Trump got into power but no-one saw Putin coming,” said Terri.

“The discussions in the rehearsal room have been quite lively and there is such an immediacy for the need of this production that I could not have foreseen. I was literally adapting the scene where Hitler takes Austria, on the day that Putin invaded the Ukraine.”

Despite its heavy subject-matter, Terri promises theatre-goers an enjoyable experience.

“Brecht’s play is very funny, so I’ve felt a greater responsibility to get the tone of humour right.

John ‘Goodo’ Goodson and Brendan O’Connor in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui IMAGE: Chrissy Maguire

“We’ve got such an incredible cast working on this show. Brendan O’Connor is mind-blowingly phenomenal as Arturo – few actors can spin an audience on a dime from laughing to being terrified like he can.  Robert Street, Sally McCutcheon and Badaidilaga Maftuh-Flynn are such a great team of gangsters.

“Plus I have had a ball working on the all-original music with my mate, John Goodson (Goodo). This is the first time we have collaborated like this and it won’t be our last,” Terri said.   

“Audiences should expect an incredibly entertaining frolic through history and a deeper understanding of how Hitler was able to rise to power.  And hopefully,  they will come away with a sobering look at where we find ourselves now.” 


Theatre iNQ’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui runs 10 – 21 May 2022.

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