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Brecht’s

Epic Theatre
Beginnings of epic theatre

 Elizabethan Theatre
 Popular Entertainments
Naturalism vs Epic theatre
 Plot  Narrative
 Implicates the spectator in  Turns the spectator into an
a stage situation observer
 Wears down the spectator’s  Arouses the spectator’s
capacity for action capacity for action
 Provides the audience with  Forces the audience to take
sensations decisions
 The spectator is involved in  The spectator is made to
something face something
 Suggestion  Argument
 Instinctive feelings are  Brought to the point of
preserved recognition
 The spectator is in the thick  The spectator stands
of it, shares the experience outside, studies
Naturalism vs Epic theatre
 The human being is taken  The human being is the
for granted object of the enquiry
 The human being is  The human being is
unalterable alterable and able to alter
 One scene makes another  Each scene for itself
 Growth  Montage
 Linear development  Broken up
 A human being is a fixed  A human being is a process
point
 Thought determines being  Social being determines
thought
 Feeling  Reason
Montage
Verfremdungseffekt

Epic Theatre
Geste Music and Song

Placards

Narration
Design
Montage
 Similar images juxtaposed together
 Intended to ‘shock’ the audience
 Kept audience alert and awake
 Drew attention to the content
 Opposed progressive growth of plot
Verfremdungseffekt
 Influenced by Chinese theatre
 Make familiar seem strange
 Renew audiences interest in the familiar
 Not submerging actor in character
 Creates a more objective stance
 Placards
 Narration
 Not Alienation
Geste

 Gist and Gesture


 Attitude expressed through words or actions
 Charlie Chaplin used as influence
 Contrasts naturalism
Music and Song
 Essential in Brechtian theatre
 Interrupted the text
 Music and Song used separately
 Commented upon character’s feelings
 Used non-naturalistically
Design
 Use of ‘half-curtain’ allowing
backstage to be seen
 Costume changes made on stage
 Projections separate from action
 Sharp, clear lighting
 Restricted colour schemes
 Placards
Plays

Can be considered in three stages;

 The early period


 The propaganda plays
 The plays of Brecht’s maturity
The Early Period
 Trommeln in der Nacht (Drums in the Night;
1918),
 Mann ist Mann (Man is Man; 1924-5)
 Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera;
1928) and
 Mahagonny (The Rise and Fall of the Town of
Mahagonny; 1928-9).
The Propaganda plays
 Der Flug des Lindberghs [Der Ozeanflug] (The
Flight of Lindbergh [the Ocean Flight])
 Das Badener Lehrstück vom Einverständnis,
(The Bavarian Parable Play of Understanding)
 Der Jasager (The Yes-Sayer)
 Der Neinsager (The No-Sayer)
 Die Massnahme (The Measures Taken) and
 Die Ausnahme und die Regel (The Exception
and the Rule).
The plays of Brecht’s maturity
 Mutter Courage und Ihre Kinder (Mother
Courage and her Children; first performed
1941;)
 Leben des Galilei (Life of Galileo; 1943)
 Der Gute Mensch von Sezuan (The Good
Person of Sezuan; 1943), and
 Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis (The Caucasian
Chalk-Circle; performed in English, 1947; in
German, not till 1954).