December 1, 2012
Bertolt Brecht; The Epic Theorist
Bertolt Brecht was a poet, a playwright, and an influential leader of theatre in the 20th century. Berthold Brecht was born in East Germany in 1898. His first play, Baal, was written while Brecht was a medical student in Munich. His first success, ‘Drums in the Night’ was written while serving as a medical orderly in World War I. It earned him Germany’s highest award for dramatic writing, the Kleist Prize. That was the beginning of Brecht’s list of accomplishments and contributions to the world of theater. Brecht’s largest contributions and achievements in theatre came with the creation of Epic Theatre. Bertolt was a Marxist; “he sought to make audiences evaluate the socioeconomic implications of what they saw in the theatre. Making them want to alter the economic system and work to bring about changes”(Brockett 117). His views disagreed with Aristotelian principle that the audience should suspend their disbelief during the performance. Brecht believed the theatre should not seek to make its audience believe in the presence of the characters on the stage, but should rather make the audience watch with critical detachment. He achieved that detachment with the use of a concept called Verfremdungseffekt or “alienation effect”. Brecht’s style of production was largely that of his “alienation effect”. In order to create the necessary critical detachment, techniques were devised such as exposing the theatrical means, having a barren set, setting the action in another time or place, and using captions or placards before or in between scenes. Another way he sought his alienation was through the use of disparity between various theatrical elements. Brecht also instructed his actors to never fully immerge themselves into their character, always making sure to be critically aware. Brecht explains, “His feelings must not at bottom be those of the character, so that the audience's may not at bottom be those of...
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