Life of Galileo (German: Leben des Galilei), also known as Galileo, is a play by the twentieth-century German dramatist Bertolt Brecht with incidental music by Hanns Eisler.
The second (or 'American') version was written between 1945–1947, in collaboration with Charles Laughton. The play received its first theatrical production (in German) at the Zurich Schauspielhaus, opening on 9 September 1948. This production was directed by Leonard Steckel, with set-design by Teo Otto. The cast included Steckel himself (as Galileo), Karl Paryla and Wolfgang Langhoff.
The second version (in English) opened at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles on 30 July 1947. It was directed by Joseph Losey and Brecht, with musical direction by Serge Hovey and set-design by Robert Davison. Laughton played Galileo, with Hugo Haas as Barberini and Frances Heflin as Virginia. This production opened at the Maxine Elliott's Theatre in New York on 7 December of the same year. A third production, by the Berliner Ensemble with Ernst Busch in the title role, opened in January 1957 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm and was directed by Erich Engel, with set-design by Caspar Neher. The play was first published in 1940.
A screen adaptation of the play, directed by Joseph Losey for American Film Theatre, was produced in 1975 under the title Galileo with Topol in the title role.
The plot of the play concerns the latter period of the life of Galileo Galilei, the great Italian natural philosopher, who was persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church for the promulgation of his scientific discoveries; for details, see Galileo affair. The play embraces such themes as the conflict between dogmatism and scientific evidence, as well as interrogating the values of constancy in the face of oppression.