We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Bertolt Brecht: The Epic Theorist

The whole doc is available only for registered users
  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 636
  • Category: Theatre

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Bertolt Brecht was a poet, a playwright, and an influential leader of theatre in the 20th century. Berthold Brecht was born in East Germany in 1898. His first play, Baal, was written while Brecht was a medical student in Munich. His first success, ‘Drums in the Night’ was written while serving as a medical orderly in World War I. It earned him Germany’s highest award for dramatic writing, the Kleist Prize. That was the beginning of Brecht’s list of accomplishments and contributions to the world of theater. Brecht’s largest contributions and achievements in theatre came with the creation of Epic Theatre. Bertolt was a Marxist; “he sought to make audiences evaluate the socioeconomic implications of what they saw in the theatre. Making them want to alter the economic system and work to bring about changes”(Brockett 117). His views disagreed with Aristotelian principle that the audience should suspend their disbelief during the performance. Brecht believed the theatre should not seek to make its audience believe in the presence of the characters on the stage, but should rather make the audience watch with critical detachment.

He achieved that detachment with the use of a concept called Verfremdungseffekt or “alienation effect”. Brecht’s style of production was largely that of his “alienation effect”. In order to create the necessary critical detachment, techniques were devised such as exposing the theatrical means, having a barren set, setting the action in another time or place, and using captions or placards before or in between scenes. Another way he sought his alienation was through the use of disparity between various theatrical elements. Brecht also instructed his actors to never fully immerge themselves into their character, always making sure to be critically aware. Brecht explains, “His feelings must not at bottom be those of the character, so that the audience’s may not at bottom be those of the character either. The audience must have complete freedom”(Brecht 17). In the same year he developed “epic theatre” (1928) he also worked with composer Kurt Weill and created the successful satirical ballad opera, The Threepenny Opera. He wrote most of his great plays during the years he was exiled and cut off from German theatre between 1938 and 1945.

He collected his major theoretical essays and dialogues, and many of the poems as Svendborger Gedichte. During that time he wrote Mother Courage and Her Children, a play during the Thirty Year War; and The Good Woman of Setzuan, set in prewar China about a girl using a separate personality to help her with her problems. Finally, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a story about struggles over custody of a child between the rich mother who abandoned it and the servant girl who cares for it. Bertolt Brecht moved back to Berlin and created his own company called the Berliner Ensemble. In 1955 he won the Stalin Peace Prize and died from a heart attack the following year while working on a response to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Bertolt Brecht was a poet, a playwright, and an influential leader of theatre in the 20th century. Many theatrical conventions today derive from Brecht’s techniques. Brecht created Epic Theatre with the idea that the audience retains a critical detachment throughout. “The purpose of the theater thus was not to imitate life but to educate the audience”(About 5). Brecht wrote that there was “no more noble aim for any theater.”

Works Cited

“About Epic Theatre.” Mother Courage and Her Children Study Guide : About “Epic Theater” Grade Saver, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.gradesaver.com/mother-courage-and-her-children/study-guide/section13/>.

“Bertolt Brecht.” Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). Theatre Database, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.theatredatabase.com/20th_century/bertolt_brecht_001.html>.

Brockett, Oscar G., and Robert J. Ball. “Chapter 7: Modernism and It’s Effect.” The Essential Theatre. Tenth ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976. 177+. Print.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59