Text from a dramaturge notebook on the play "mother courage and her children" by Bertolt Brecht

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STAGING:

The stage is set up with seats arranged around the outside of the central acting area (Theatre in the round) to reinforce the idea of alienation. Unlike in dramatic theatre where the action on stage depicted as life itself; the audience of epic theatre must regularly be reminded that they are watching a performance. For the audience of dramatic theatre it is as though they are looking into a room, the fourth wall of which having been magically been made invisible. However, this illusion is shattered during the performance of Mother Courage by the use of theatre in the round. Having the audience members visible to each other during the performance is a simple device used to remind them that the action on stage is not life. See appendix 1.7

The set should be simple, using fragments of scenery and single pieces of furniture to suggest whole locations. The scenery can be changed in front of the audience, even by the actors themselves. See appendix 1.1

Microphones and television monitors have been set up around the circumference of the stage as tools in some of the alienation techniques. The microphones firstly have the practical purpose of picking up the dialogue on stage and allowing the audience to hear it more clearly, as well being used as props during some of the songs. By making the microphones visible to the audience, some of the illusion of theatre is removed and will consequently lead to increased alienation. A similar principle is seen in the use of lighting.

The television monitors are simply the modern alternative to banners and placards used in Brecht's early productions. They serve as a device to fortify alienation through displaying messages that relate to the theme, or giving details about what is to happen next in the performance. The use of titles and screens is a form of narration, one of the three components to Brecht's plays. See appendix 2.1; 2.2; 2.3

LIGHTING:

The lighting used it to bathe the stage in white light at all times to allow the audience to see exactly what is happening. Moreover, lights should not be used for special effects to create mood. Therefore, as the lights are being used to reinforce alienation they should not be hidden from the audience. However, they shouldn't be a distraction either. See appendix 1.2; 1.6; 1.8; 1.9

MUSIC:

Brecht did not use songs to heighten emotion, but rather serve as commentaries and ultimately leading to alienation. The melodies may be jerky, unromantic and be influenced by jazz. They may even satirize popular sentiment. See appendix 3.6; 3.2

The music should come from a visible source; musicians were often on stage. Interruptions for songs are announced or indicated by banners or projection of titles. See appendix 3.1; 3.4

Ska and Trip Hop are modern genres of music that have jazz and brass roots. The most obvious traits of ska include walking bass, offbeat chords, repetitive drumlins, and brass. Ska also has wacky lyrics sung in interesting voices. The Mighty, Mighty Bostones, Sublime and Less Than Jake are fairly well known ska bands. At the end of scene eight, Mother Courage's song is performed in the style of Ska because it is generally upbeat and will therefore highlight the idea that she is happy about the war starting again, and also her naiveté regarding the death of Eilif. See appendix 6.1

Trip Hop, also known as downtempo includes pretty much anything slow and hip-hop(ish), the style has its roots in everything from funk to old hip-hop to acid jazz.

ACTING:

Brecht described the actor's role as being like an eyewitness at an accident. The actor's job is to demonstrate what happened. He or she must not get carried away with his or her role in a play and deceive the audience into believing they are watching a real event. Nor must the actors try and become any of the characters they are portraying. The actor's job is to demonstrate the words and actions of the character. At no time should the actor or...
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