Alienation Effect

Good Essays
by brechtLast week, we looked at Brecht as one of the fathers of Modern Theatre, with his Epic Theatre. We narrowed our discussion to the most important part of Epic Theatre: Brecht’s alienation effect (also known as the distancing effect). Today, we’ll expand our understanding of the alienation effect with some new ideas and examples. We’ll also explore the idea of a double (or a split-self).

We focused on how Brecht achieved his alienation effect in these ways:
#1: MASKS to create intellectual distance from characters (instead of emotional connection with them.)
#2: Strange SETS and PROPS that seem fake (symbolic rather than “real”). #3: A Geographical or fictional SETTING Which could be in any city and allows us to see our culture in the play & think about our society. #4: MUSIC or poetry (in between the play’s dialogue) to create a jarring effect on the audience.

We touched on how Brecht used masks to separate the audience from the human emotion of the characters.

Brecht also used masks to create sharp (or drastic) distinctions between one character and another—since one method of his alienation effect was to have one actor play two dramatis personae (or two characters) in a single play.

Shen Te & her “cousin” Shui Ta is the most obvious example of a double character in The Good Woman of Setzuan, but Brecht would often have actors double up their rolls, in many of his different plays. Having the actors play two characters is an alienation technique since it makes us, as the audience, very aware that the actors are performing. It makes us more conscious that the action is not real.

We might even say that Brecht enjoyed masking his actors, simply so that he might unmask them to create even more of an alienation effect—or distancing effect.
Actors were often called upon to unmask (or even come on stage out of costume) to deliver asides to the audience and read the epilogue (or the closing speech) of Brecht’s plays.

#

UNMASKING

This

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    Gestus, an acting technique developed by Bertolt Brecht, could be used to present a social attitude embodied by each of the characters and the relationships between them. The performers would need to read the extract and understand what each of the characters represents. For example, Lysistrata personifies the Greek fear of a transgressive woman whereas Calonice depicts the typical Greek idea of a housewife and child bearer, in addition to a sexual object for men to admire. The use of caricature, another Brechtian idea, would further enhance these social attitudes thereby benefiting the actors as the relationships would develop as the contrasts appear more…

    • 323 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Brecht wanted his Epic theatre to challenge the theatre of illusion that naturalism created. He wanted his audience to be alert and awake and to leave the auditorium with a challenge: to try and find the answers that his plays posed. He was so determined that his style of theatre shouldn't be just entertainment that he went to extraordinary measures. In the performances of 'Drums In The Night' banners were placed in the auditorium, which said, "stop that romantic staring" and "every man is best in his own skin". This was to de-romanticise the act of watching - the audience were supposed to observe, not fall into illusion. It was so effective that a critic remarked: "Overnight the 24-year-old poet Bert Brecht has changed the literary face of Germany." Another effect he used to create the observing of the audience was to use a narrator to break up the action. For example in 'The Caucasian Chalk Circle' a narrator is used. This served to distance the audience from the action on stage.…

    • 816 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Brecht was influenced by this political philosophy, he pursued equality in the world and the people that surrounded him. This principle remained stable through the rest of his life. In fact, Marxists influence is present in each of his plays and productions. Through his plays, Brecht intended to alert the audience to the need for social change. He incorporated the concept of Epic Theater to provoke self- reflection and a critical view of the action on stage. Brecht employed the use of techniques to remind the spectator that the play is a representation of reality and not reality itself. One of Brecht’s key aesthetic notions was the concept of Gestus. Gestus is a clear character gesture or movement that is used by the actor that captures a moment or attitude rather than delving into emotion. Brecht “insisted on regarding poetic and theatrical language as "gestic" and even on requiring gestic music. It was the "gestic material" that the actor must interpret in order to convey the plot. He considered the narrative line to be the main business of any theatrical event” (Fiebach). Brecht wanted for the audience to tell what was happening in the scene based solely on the actor’s gesture and it was up to the audience to interpret that…

    • 504 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The style in which the play was performed was presentational although there are some parts of realism because situations like these actually do happen. The actors played multiple characters and morphed into each one. The morphing shows visible changes of character. They had great versatility of characters and played each one with passion for the role. The facial expressions they used seemed to add to the way they acted and made us, as an audience believe their roles much more. Other presentational aspects include the use of direct address and poetic narration throughout the performance.…

    • 637 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The texts “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, “Elephant man” the film by David Lynch and “Othello” by William Shakespeare, can all be connected and contrasted by the central concept of alienation as presented by the composers of these texts through the use of various Literary, dramatic and cinematic techniques. Alienation and how effective the text has been in representing this concept can be identified and highlighted by the messages of alienation the composer has presented to their responders.…

    • 624 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Masks in Twelfth Night

    • 672 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Shakespeare was a man that established his name in history books as a great writer. One of Shakespeare’s many sparks of innovative genius which laminated these pages was his use of masks. Masks are used throughout Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” as a character would choose to wear their selected mask to fit in to the particular situation. Shakespeare uses this imagery of a mask in many of the characters in his play, but mostly in two: Viola and Feste. These masks are used throughout the play, but are eventually discarded at the end for the finale.…

    • 672 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Romeo and Juliet Essay

    • 1360 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Throughout this essay I will analyse characterisation, stagecraft, language and context when exploring the themes of the play and when considering what the audience learns as a result.…

    • 1360 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Notably, he treats the characters as players of his game, manipulating their lives and playing off their superstitious beliefs. A Brechtian style is explored through the Narrator to make the audience reflect on unravelling themes and to unmask the naturalism of society at the time. The narrator is important within the play as he shows the movement and progression of time, ‘when you’re sweet sixteen.’ ‘At seventeen.’…

    • 897 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Antigone Mask Project

    • 267 Words
    • 2 Pages

    In the Greek Theatre, the actors used masks in order to communicate the characters to the…

    • 267 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Given that a tragedy excites an audience’s interest in the hero’s private consciousness, this article asks, “Has Shakespeare provided the means, in words or action, whereby this hero [Hamlet] comes, at last, to be ‘denoted truly’?” (18). Throughout Hamlet, the protagonist speaks ambiguously. His linguistic trickery only heightens the audience’s anticipation of resolution (and revelation of Hamlet’s inner thoughts). Yet the last line of the dying Prince—“the rest is silence” (5.2.363)—proves particularly problematic, with a minimum of five possible readings. For example, Shakespeare perhaps speaks through Hamlet, “telling the audience and the actor that he, the dramatist, would not, or could not, go a word further in the presentation of this, his most verbally brilliant and baffling hero” (27); the last lines of Troilus and Cressida, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, and Love’s Labor’s Lost suggest a pattern of this authorial style. While all five readings are plausible, they are also valuable, allowing audience and actor to choose an interpretation. This final act of multiplicity seems fitting for a protagonist “whose mind is unconfined by any single issue” (31).…

    • 921 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    • 4427 Words
    • 18 Pages

    Brecht wished to create theatre that did more than just result in the audience feeling, but instead, in the audience thinking.…

    • 4427 Words
    • 18 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    The way in which Shakespeare has the characters ”conceal” themselves both mentally and physically, raises…

    • 1410 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Brecht and Stanislavski United on their ideas to reject the popularity of a star performer with in an ensemble instead He emphasized the need for a unified ensemble. Embedivity with in the work and rehearsal process was Brecht’s aim. He wanted actors to gain a fully rounded idea of the script throughout the rehearsal process and encouraged play to find a true understanding this included swapping roles using different accents and often even playing with a different gender. Although Brechts techniques were quite different to Stanislavski's his weight on the importance of vocal techniques and flexibility were similar to Stanislavski's and a lot of time was spent getting actors to be completely fluid with their voices.Voice was stressed with huge…

    • 136 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Masks have held countless uses and meanings throughout history. Masks have been used in plays, like those of Shakespeare, traditional dances, social gatherings, even as a form of casual or corporal punishment. Although masks have several different uses in different cultural situations, the meaning of the masks is generally the same. Masks are used to conceal an appearance and assume the identity of another. Metaphorically, masks can be used to hide feelings, to protect oneself, and to block out the outside world. Many of these examples are shown in Art Speigelman 's Maus.…

    • 1127 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    A realisation that “The world is out of joint, certainly and it will take powerful movements to manipulate it all back again”, convinced Bertolt Brecht that his role in fixing the world’s wrongs was to use theatre as a tool for social change.…

    • 1005 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays

Related Topics