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The Life and Works of Bertolt Brecht

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The Life and Works of Bertolt Brecht In this essay I will consider the life and works of Bertolt Brecht, the famous theatre practitioner who has had such a dramatic impact on our understanding of the theatre and acting. First of all I will give a biography of Brecht because it is important to know the background of his life in order to understand the motives he had for writing and producing plays in the way he did. We will see a direct correlation between events in his life and the plays and techniques that he propagated. I will then move to explore the methods and techniques that Brecht developed, looking at how they came about and who influenced his work. I will look at Brecht's theory of Epic theatre, tracing the beginnings of this style and looking at the influences that may have helped to form it. To get a clear view of what Epic theatre is like I will compare it to dramatic theatre, which Brecht did himself, in regard to how the audience reacts to it. I will examine Brecht's theory of using Montage and the effect that he intended to have on the audience. I will consider the origination of Verfremdungseffekt and how this was not an original idea of Brecht's but something that he identified with because it supported his ideas. ...read more.


Since early on in his life Brecht was fascinated by the entertainment at travelling fairs, which did not rely on the technology of modern theatre with all its illusory power. It was therefore very appealing to Brecht because he wanted to destroy the illusion of the theatre. The techniques used by fair-ground entertainers were also used later by Brecht in his plays. They involved a narrator, stories with a moral message often illustrated by pictures because the audience was largely illiterate, musical interludes, daylight performances and the audience free to come and go as they please. Brecht was greatly influenced by his friend Sergei Eisenstein who was a film maker and used the technique of montage, which involved cutting apparently unrelated images together to bring the spectator to a point of realisation. Brecht was interested in shocking the audience to keep them awake and alert he did this by using a form of montage in the theatre. Brecht created short self contained and apparently unrelated scenes and put them right next to each other this drew out aspects of those scenes that Brecht wanted people to see and made them recognise and understand issues that he was trying to communicate. With montage the emphasis was on the visual and so Brecht made sure that the scene was perfectly choreographed so that every movement was in place and it was clear what was happening without speaking. ...read more.


His Epic theatre style was totally contrary to the dramatic style and with the help of his collaborators he began to raise questions that challenged the dramatic style of theatre that he was so against. In the writings of Karl Marx he found a philosophy that mirrored his and he began to write more vigorously to inspire political change. His belief was that the oppressed poor people had to be inspired to fight for political change and thereby relieve their suffering. These plays were written for a music festival and they took place on a very open stage, which allowed more audience involvement. Behind the stage there was a projection screen which displayed the text and invited the audience to join in by singing along. Sometimes there would be actors in the audience to lead the audience response. In this way Brecht hoped to involve the audience in the political debates within the text. Throughout his life Brecht collaborated with other writers, musicians, directors and designers. His work was always an amalgamation of efforts and yet he managed to claim it as his own. By the end of his life he was a leading figure in theatre his productions had changed the way people viewed theatre because of their innovative ideas and detailed acting and design. Through exploring Brecht's work I have learnt more about the theatre, its origins and its potential. ?? ?? ?? ?? Student no. 03502291 Pg. 1 ...read more.

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