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Bertolt Brecht's - Epic Theatre

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Alexa Evans

on 14 February 2014

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Transcript of Bertolt Brecht's - Epic Theatre

Brechtian techniques
There were six main techniques in Brecht theatre:
Epic theatre
Alienation effect
Breaking the Fourth Wall
Narration with song
Breaking the Fourth Wall
The "Fourth wall" is what keeps the audience from interacting in the play. However, when Brecht started to write his plays he decided is was time to knock down that wall. He made it acceptable for actors to respond to the audience in any way necessary. For the audiences, it created a more personal experience.
Alienation effect

Brecht wanted to find a way to challenge his audience more than theatre did at the time. He wanted the audience to question the motives of his characters. He liked for his audiences' predictions for the play to be completely off from what happens.
Brecht: Epic Theatre
Dramatic theatre is remarkably different from epic theatre. In dramatic theatre, one scene may set up for the next; whereas in epic theatre each scene is separate. The contrast in these two types of theatre are drastic, which is exactly what Brecht had intended. He wanted a theatre practice that was different than any other at the time and would make the audience think more.
Epic theatre
Narration and Song
A common example of this method is found in the play, Mother Courage and her Children. In one scene of this play, Mother Courage is found singing a lullaby to her daughter and just a few scenes later is paying for her funeral while displaying to sense of loss or emotion.
A didactic is a type of story that tries to teach a moral. In many of Brecht's plays he tried to teach a lesson about politics, the economy, or society at the time. His goal in play writing was not just to amuse people for two hours; he wanted people to walk out a better person.
Brecht used music in his plays to narrate the story or to comment on what was happening. And although this was the main purpose, he also used alienation effect to enhance the scene. If it were serious lyrics for a serious part of the play, he may choose to use happy, upbeat music.
Technical Aspects
Brecht believed that a stage should always be fully lit with absolutely no special lights. A play is not about creating some type of allusion.The sets are not realistically done, but more as guidelines to promote the theme. The stage is typically left relatively bare.

Presented by Alexa and Elli

In Brecht's theater fragmentary costumes; single and basic items of clothing represented most of the costume. That can be turned into other purposes. E.g., a scarf could become a blanket.

Moreover, if there was a costume change or character transformation, costume changes were exposed to the audience.


The actor throughout the performance breaks and changes their focus a lot, creating a disjointed focus. Drawing the audience in and snapping them out of it by breaking the forth wall and directly addressing them with open body language, direct eye contact and personal interaction.
He wrote some of the major plays during this exile. In May of 1941, Brecht finally received his U.S. visa and relocated to Santa Monica, California, where he attempted to become a Hollywood screenwriter, but his unusual concepts were dismissed by Hollywood producers who couldn’t seem to grasp his artistic visions. His only successful Hollywood film was Hangmen Also Die
Brecht's plays reflected a Marxist interpretation of society and when Adolf Hitler gained power in 1933 he was
forced to flee from Nazi Germany. After leaving Germany in 1933, Brecht lived in Denmark, Sweden and the Soviet Union. While living in exile he wrote anti-Nazi plays such as The Roundheads and the Peakheads and Fear and Misery of the Third Reich.
Brecht's objective is to teach a lesson about politics, the economy, or society at the time. His goal in play writing was not just to amuse people for two hours; he wanted people to walk out a better person
Main Views on Theatre
Full transcript