The planet-sized egos of left wing German playwright Bertolt Brecht and Hollywood film star Charles Laughton clash as they negotiate the translation and adaptation of Brecht’s play Life of Galileo for its American premiere, with Laughton lined up for the lead. The themes of Life of Galileo – an account of Galileo’s trial for the heresy of believing that the Earth orbits the Sun and his subsequent recantation under threat of torture – reflected in the lives of Laughton, a gay man in 1940s America, and Brecht, whose left wing sympathies would eventually lead him before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Orbits explores how – just as Galileo crumbled under the Inquisition – Brecht’s beloved ‘concrete truth’, could crumble under pressures, political, historical and personal. It’s a fitting tale perhaps for the post-truth times we find ourselves in today.
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