Bertolt Brecht

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  • Topic: Bertolt Brecht, Epic theatre, The Caucasian Chalk Circle
  • Pages : 3 (1196 words )
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  • Published : September 7, 2010
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Throughout the ages different forms of drama have been performed with the objective of influencing the masses. Bertolt Brecht was, and still is, one of the more influential playwrights in the history of theatre. Brecht was an opinionated Marxist living in Germany in the time of Hitler. He was exiled from Germany as a result of his controversial plays, and moved to America. This is where he wrote his most famous plays: Mother Courage and Her Childern, The Good Woman of Setzuan and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. He developed his own type of drama, Epic Theatre with the purpose of changing human society. His plays were didactic, with the persuasion on educating an audience. Despite the undeniable aims of his work, the techniques used were not quite so affective in reality and as a result the performances often did not have the impact Brecht desired.

The techniques used in Brechtian pieces consist of alienation and historification in an attempt to achieve his goals. Alienation comes from the German word “verfremdungseffekt” or “to make strange.” The idea is to separate an audience from being emotionally involved in the performance so as to ensure that they so they are able to gain a better understanding of the issues he was tackling in his play. "Nothing is more important than learning to think crudely. Crude thinking is the thinking of great men." – Bertolt Brecht (Benjamin, 2003.) He believed that if he could distance an audience from the fictional characters, he could then teach them and hence influence them. In order to achieve alienation certain techniques were employed, such as broken scenes, song, humour and half constructed sets. In theory, this supported the quote “In Brecht’s own writings about theatre, his forcefulness and direction was towards changing human society, towards educating an audience and providing entertainment.” – Wallace Heim. In practice, however, such a goal was unrealistic with the particular methods Epic Theatre employed. Humans are...
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