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  • Writer's pictureDennis Yueh-Yeh Li

THE (NEW) TRIAL Artistic Statement

"We have to enter the world through theatre,” states Julian Beck, the co- founder of The Living Theatre. Theatre can be found everywhere and is mirrored in everyday behavior. Theatre is more than a space; internally it reaches directly into the mind and heart, and externally it transforms the public and transcends the social strata. Theatre achieves this by exchanging thoughts or unnamed feelings which allow us to understand the complexity of life better and further to take on actions that address pressing issues. 

Committed to revolutionary theatre, Peter Weiss has always aimed for changing the world through theatre by suggesting a direction, a method. However, “The New Trial,” inspired by Franz Kafka’s “The Trial,” does not strongly introduce a solution for the world that we are supposed to carry out as most of Weiss’s plays do. Rather, it represents the reality of the entire social system by depicting a mundane figure surviving and struggling in a blossoming international corporation. Different from Kafka’s world in “The Trial,” Weiss applies a Chekhovian method in his writing to replicate a reality that strikes the audience personally, and coerces them to reflect on their quotidian life, with an hope of stimulating actions on making a change, a change for a better living of the self and of others.

Hugely influenced by Peter Weiss in my theatrical aesthetics and politics, it is never my only intention to simply bring the world in Weiss’s plays to life. Rather, just as how Weiss treated Kafka’s “The Trial,” and as the reason for the existence of “The New Trial,” I aim for embodying my understanding of Weiss’s motivation for writing, and how to lead to social change through the latter. When confronted with the struggles of our society, it is neither one singular authority, nor one individual or one organization that can be singled out and criticized. When dealing with concepts such as  confinement, oppression, and struggle, one has to understand that systemic improvement is paramount. It is not always the others that impose upon us, but we ourselves are sometimes our biggest obstacles. In “The New Trial,” it is not every single character or the entire corporation or the society that tragedies K’s life, but K himself allows it to happen and reinforces it. Weiss makes clear that it is K himself who imposes constraint, limit, and imprisonment onto his docile body, while masochistically embracing it where his enjoyment is procreated. Therefore, to really understand the society with its problems and to speculate about a change for a new culture, we have to re-understand and rebalance the relationships with ourselves and others. This is why we create “The (New) Trial.”

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