Versions of the play

After emigrating to the United States from Hitler's Germany (with stopovers in various other countries in between, among them the USSR), Brecht translated and re-worked the first version of his play in collaboration with the actor Charles Laughton.[3] The result of their efforts was the second 'American version' of the play, entitled simply Galileo, which to this day remains the most widely-staged version in the English-speaking world. The same version formed the basis for Losey's 1975 film adaptation as part of the American Film Theatre series.

In September 1947, Brecht was subpoenaed in the US by the House Un-American Activities Committee for alleged communist connections. He testified before HUAC on 30 October 1947, and flew to Europe on 31 October. He chose to return to East Germany and continued to work on the play, now once again in the German language. He felt that the optimistic portrait of the scientific project present in the first two versions required revision in a post-Hiroshima world, where science's irrational and harmful potential had become far more apparent.[4] The final German version premiered at Cologne in April 1955.

Matej Danter offers a readily-accessible and detailed comparison of the early, the American, and the final German versions.[5]

In 2013 the Royal Shakespeare Company premiered a new translation of A Life of Galileo by its Writer in Residence Mark Ravenhill in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

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