Brecht

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Brecht:

Bertolt Brecht is one of the most influential figures in Twentieth century theatre — changing forever the way we do theatre.

Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg, Germany, on 10 February, 1898. He started writing and publishing by the age of 16 (news commentary, poems and short stories). And had his first plays published in 1922 at the age of 24. Was married to the famous actress Helene Weigel, who was his life-long companion and co-writer/director. They set up their own company, the state-funded Berliner Ensemble in 1949. (Overhead 2 & 3) He died on 14 August at home in East Berlin. The BE continues to exist.

‘Epic theatre’ - Epic Theatre proposed that a play should not cause the spectator to identify emotionally with the characters or action, but should instead provoke rational self-reflection and a critical view of the action on the stage. Instead, he wanted his audiences to adopt a critical perspective in order to recognise social injustice and exploitation and to be moved to go forth from the theatre and effect change in the world outside. For this purpose, Brecht employed the use of techniques that remind the spectator that the play is a representation of reality and not reality itself. By highlighting the constructed nature of the theatrical event, Brecht hoped to communicate that the audience's reality was equally constructed and, as such, was changeable.

One of Brecht's most important principles was what he called the, "distancing effect", or "estrangement effect", and often mistranslated as "alienation effect") This involved, "stripping the event of its self-evident, familiar, obvious quality and creating a sense of astonishment and curiosity about them" To this end, Brecht employed techniques such as the actor's direct address to the audience, harsh and bright stage lighting, the use of songs to interrupt the action, explanatory placards, and speaking the stage directions out loud.

One of the goals of epic theatre is for the...
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