December 9, 2013
The phrase, the overweight brain, comes from Hamletmachine by Heiner Müller (1929-2005), the East German dramatist. Hamletmachine is a postmodern distillation and reconfiguration of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the play, Müller’s Hamlet embodies the dead end of Western intellectual history—describing himself, he says, “Like a hunchback I drag my overweight brain.”
Fred Newman loved Müller’s writing and directed 15 productions of Müller texts at the Castillo Theatre, where he was artistic director from 1989 to 2005. To make the scripts more accessible to American audiences, Newman often wrote original songs for the Müller plays he directed. For the 2002 Castillo Theatre production of Hamletmachine, Newman wrote, “Lugging,” which was the direct inspiration for my book’s title. You can listen to the song as performed in the 2002 production here
To read more about Newman on Müller, see the chapter by Newman and me, “Activity and performance (and their discourses) in social therapeutic method,” in the 2012 book, Discursive Perspectives in Therapeutic Practice, edited by Andy Lock and Tom Strong, Oxford University Press.