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Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht


He was born on 10th Feb 1898 in Augsburg, Germany After the war, he moved to Berlin where he was attracted to modern theater Appointed as a consultant in 1924 in Deutches Theater in Berlin

In 1933 to 1941 he went on exile in Scandinavia (mainly in Denmark) Until 1947 he lived in the USA where he did some film work in Hollywood In this period, his books were burned and his citizenship was withdrawn He was cut off German theater In this period away from Germany, Brecht wrote most of his greatest plays, major theoretical essays and dialogues

Dramatic Theatre
Plot Has a beginning, middle and end. Issues raised in the play are resolved. (well-made play) Implicates the spectator in a stage situation Suggests to the spectator that what he or she is watching is just like real life. Provides spectator with sensations A theatre of illusion, with ideas reinforced. Experience The audience feels what the actors feel The spectator is involved in something The audience is swept up in the characters, the plot, the ideas Suggestion Instinctive feelings are preserved The spectator is in the thick of it, shares the experience The human being is taken for granted The human being is unalterable Eyes on the finish One scene makes another Linear development Evolutionary determinism The human being is a fixed point Thought determines being Feeling

Epic Theatre
Narrative Begins anywhere, continues and stops. Issues are not resolved. Turns the spectator into an observer but arouses his capacity for action The spectator can question what he/she is seeing. Forces spectator to take decisions Makes it clear that there are problems to be solved. Picture of the world The audience is not emotionally involved. The spectator is made to face something The audience is forced to reconsider their ideas because of what they see. Argument Brought to the point of recognition The spectator stands outside, studies The human being is an object of inquiry The human being is alterable and able to alter Change is possible, both in oneself and in the world Eyes on the course Each scene for itself See narrative In curves, broken up Jumps The human being is a process Social being determines thought Reason

-Brecht wanted theatre to make a change. -He wanted a theatre where people could make their own decisions. -He wanted to educate the audience. -He wanted the audience to think. -The audience must not be emotionally involved with characters or plot. -They must be forced to make decisions about what they see.

Verfremdungseffekt
Alienation

effect Acting in the third person (traffic accident). Presentational as opposed to Representational. Actors and audience are encouraged to not, at any point, feel that they are the character they are portraying. Characters are not representative of individuals, but of social groups or types. Attempts to create a space between audience and actors.

Techniques
Three-dimensional

set pieces Usage of machineries Insistence on the actors demonstrating through physical disposition of the body their Gestus (attitude) Predisposing the audience so that it concentrates on how and what will happen in advance

The

set and props were on stage only if the were necessary for telling the story. The lights were to be in full view of the audience, as were their operators. Music was meant to comment on or conflict with the action on stage. Structure of music halls so that each element of the play should operate on its own.

Greatest works:
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).

Mother

and her Children, 1941 life of Galileo, 1943

Courage

The

Major themes:
- Lower Classes Durin g Wartime - Courage - War as Business - Motherhood

Mother

Courage : I won't let you spoil my war for me. Destroys the weak, does it? Well, what does peace do for'em, huh? War feeds its people better.

An anti-war play depicting the evils of war Brecht's characters are negative heroes, like Mother Courage The war takes all her children one by one She is trying to make a profit from the system that exploits her.

As a work of "epic theater," Mother Courage does not have Aristotelian model of plot. There are not many props on the stage with the exception of money and the wagon. The use of music The use of episodic plot

Tillys victory at Magdeburg costs Mother Courage four officers shirts

LIFE OF GALILEO

Brecht wrote very few plays in his last years in Berlin, none of them as famous as his previous works. Some of his most famous poems, however, including the "Buckower Elegies", were from this time. Brecht died in 1956 of a heart attack at the age of 58.

References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertolt_Brecht
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http://www.cs.brandeis.edu/~jamesf/goodwoman/brecht http://www.cs.brandeis.edu/~jamesf/goodwoman/brech

Brecht, Bertolt: Mother Courage and her Children Brecht, Bertolt: The Good Woman of Setzuan Brecht, Bertolt: The Life of Galileo Brockett, Oscar: History of the Theatre Williams, Raymond: Drama from Ibsen to Brecht