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Brecht and EPIC!! Theatre

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on 13 April 2014

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Transcript of Brecht and EPIC!! Theatre

EPIC!! Theatre
German theatre practice beginning in the 1920's.
Making it fall under the umbrella of the larger movement . . .
Epic Theatre's
main and most important practitioner . . .
This means it is diametrically opposed to the earlier movement . . .
Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956)
Epic Theatre was heavily influenced by a parallel German movement which had its greatest impact in cinema
German Expressionism
Works of Art intimately bound to the mechanized nature of civilization
Features of
German Expressionist Theatre
Short scenes rather than traditional long acts
abrupt staccato dialogue
Symbolic forms instead of characters (morality figures)
pervasive use of light instead of realistic scenery
choral effects preferred over singular figures
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Gabrielle Munter
Goal: Transform Society
Brecht agreed with the Expressionists' goal, but saw the methods as being vague and ineffective
He set about creating his own theatre practice to be more effective at transforming society
Brecht's Worldview
by 1926 he embraces
and the belief that
societal values are determined by economic modes of production
Capitalism is the cause of many of the world's problems
he sought to make audiences evaluate the socioeconomic implications of what they saw
he thought this would be impossible in the dominant theatre of the day
Features of pre- Brecht Theatre
empathetic response to action that overwhelms the audience
this suspends audience' critical judgement
this creates passive spectatorship carried away by the performance
problems raised in the play are resolved in the ending leaving no need for the audience to connect it to the 'real world'
Brecht termed this:
'Dramatic Theatre'
Brecht's Theatre
sought to alter the relationship between performer and audience to encourage active and critical spectatorship
he saw theatre not as an escape, but as a place to recognize problems to be solved in the real world
His means was a concept he created termed
Alienation- a distancing technique to allow an audience to view stage events with a critical eye
Many tools were used to achieve this effect
Tools of Alienation
exposing of theatrical means
settings in far off place and/or time
used captions and songs to focus attention on the construction of events
actors made to present their characters, not identify with them
used to
distance the audience
, but why distance them

Brecht believed that if it was achieved effectively it would allow the audience to have a critical view so that audience could see the need for change in the real world and go about making it happen
Effects of these Tools
No Illusion
No Character- actor as reporter objective and critical
Distance in time- because world has changed it can still change
Rough Transitions - awareness to structure of play - use of captions and songs
divorced from suspense of story and thoughts turned to social implications
Entertainment! - flux between empathetic engagement and distanced experiences entertains while allowing time to evaluate the empathetic experience
Full transcript