Life of Galileo

A new translation of Brecht’s The Life of Galileo for the early 21st century.
A sharp, complex and necessary look at the nature and making of authority and responsibility. 

Tracy Wright passed away June 22, 2010. 

A letter Don wrote can be read here.

We miss you Tracy, 
and are thankful you were in our lives.

The original reading, for Tracy:

A new translation of Brecht’s The Life of Galileo with an incomparable cast. A grand hall, by donation, Brecht for the early 21st century. A sharp, complex and necessary look at the nature and making of authority and responsibility. Simple. Music. 16mm film. An important play and an important event.

Small Wooden Shoe reads 
A new translation of 
Bertolt Brecht’s

Life of Galileo

Sunday, May 30th, 2010 – Convocation Hall
By donation to The Actors’ Fund of Canada 

A staged reading of a great play in a great hall with a great cast and with the humblest of thanks.

35 or so of Toronto’s theatre, music and film community come together to read an ever-relevant story about the complicated relationships between power, history, individuals and freedom of thought.

This night, this reading, is thanks to Tracy Wright. In more way than I can express, she is what makes it possible – what brings us together to do this crazy thing. And people who make crazy things possible are always in need of thanks. Tracy has made many crazy, beautiful things possible.

This one’s for her.

Fiona Highet will read the part of Galileo.

Joining her in this landmark event are Andrea Davis, Andrea Donaldson, Ann-Marie MacDonald, BrendanGall, Cara Gee, Caroline Gillis, Clinton Walker, Daniel MacIvor, Darren O'Donnell, David Fox, Earl Pastko, Elley -Ray Hennessy, Erin Shields, Evan Webber, Frank Cox-O’Connell, Gregory Prest, Guillermo Verdecchia, Kirsten Johnson, Lyon Smith, Matt Baram, Michelle Polak, Nadia Ross, Naomi Sniekus, Ravi Jain, Richard Alan Campbell, Robin Fulford, Sky Gilbert, Tony Nappo and more. This group of collaborators spans several generations of great Toronto independent and contemporary theatre makers coming together for one night only.

Toronto musicians Laura Barrett and Matt Murphy provide the live soundtrack to this momentous event.


Brecht's play pushes beyond the story of Galileo that we all know – that of a great scientist prosecuted by the ignorant Church and nobly recanting in order to write his 'world-changing masterwork' in secret – to question the legend that has emerged around this controversial figure. Completed after the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Brecht's Life of Galileo lays bare the notion of scientific research and progress 'for its own sake'. It proposes a social and ethical responsibility for scientists and intellectuals that remains radical in these days of venture capital science and economic justifications. Forcefully asking what the role of the intellectual and thinker is in relation to power and the status quo, Life of Galileo stands as a vitally important drama.

"In these times, it’s easy to back away from big plays and big ideas," says Jacob Zimmer, Artistic Director of Small Wooden Shoe. "Through the presentation of this new translation we grapple with and re-imagine our theatrical and scientific traditions, and approach Brecht and Galileo for what they might tell us now, about our lives today." In this new translation by Zimmer with Birgit Schreyer Duarte and directed by Zimmer, Life of Galileo thrills and excites with its examination, reflection and provocation on contemporary issues of authority.