Synopses & Reviews
This volume offers a major selection of Bertolt Brecht's groundbreaking critical writing. Here, arranged in chronological order, are essays from 1918 to 1956, in which Brecht explores his definition of the Epic Theatre and his theory of alienation-effects in directing, acting, and writing, and discusses, among other works, The Threepenny Opera, Mahagonny, Mother Courage, Puntila,
. Also included is "A Short Organum for the Theatre," Brecht's most complete exposition of his revolutionary philosophy of drama.
Translated and edited by John Willett, Brecht on Theater is essential to an understanding of one of the twentieth century's most influential dramatists.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 284-285) and index.
About the Author
(1898-1956) was the most influential German dramatist and theoretician of the theater in the 20th century. Also a poet of formidable gifts and considerable output, Brecht first attracted attention in the Berlin of the 1920s as the author of provocative plays that challenged the tenets of traditional theater. Forced to flee Germany in 1933 because of his leftist political beliefs and opposition to the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, Brecht and his family spent 14 years in exile in Scandinavia and the United States. Although he tried hard to become established in the United States, Brecht failed to make a breakthrough either as a scriptwriter in Hollywood, California, or as a playwright on Broadway. Two years later he moved to East Berlin and remained there until his death. In the 1950s he became an internationally acclaimed playwright and director through productions of his plays by the Berliner Ensemble, a company based in East Berlin and headed by his wife, actor Helene Weigel.
John Willett (1917-2002) was a noted scholar, author and translator. From the outset he was the prime editor and translator (with Ralph Manheim and others) behind Brecht in English. He was involved in the planning and translation of the programme book for the Berliner Ensemble's celebrated first visit to London in 1956 (the year of Brecht's own death); in 1959 he published the first general study in any language, The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht; he translated, edited and introduced the enormously influential Brecht on Theatre (1964); and he was a founding member of the International Brecht Society and sometime editor of its Yearbook.
Table of Contents
PART ONE 1918-1982
Emphasis on Sport
Three Cheers for Shaw
Conversation with Bert Brecht
A Radio Speech
Shouldn't we Abolish Aesthetics?
The Epic Theatre and its Difficulties
Last Stage: Oedipus
A Dialogue about Acting
On Form and Subject-Matter
An Example of Paedagogics
The Modem Theatre is the Epic Theatre
The Literarization of the Theatre
The Film, the Novel and Epic Theatre
The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication
The Question of Criteria for Judging Acting
Indirect Impact of the Epic Theatre
PART TWO 1988-1947
Interview with an Exile
Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction
The German Drama: pre-Hitler
Criticism of the New York Production of Die Mutter
On the Use of Music in an Epic Theatre
Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting
Notes to Die Rundköpfe und die Spitzköpfe
On Gestic Music
The Popular and the Realistic
On Rhymeless Verse with Irregular Rhythms
The Street Scene
On Experimental Theatre
New Technique of Acting
Two Essays on Unprofessional Acting
Notes on the Folk Play
Alienation Effects in the Narrative Pictures of the Elder Brueghel
A Little Private Tuition for my Friend Max Gorelik
Building up a Part: Laughton's Galileo
'Der Messingkauf': an editorial note
PART THREE 1947-1948
A Short Organum for the Theatre
PART FOUR 1948-1966
Masterful Treatment of a Model
From the Mother Courage Model
Does Use of the Model Restrict the Artist's Freedom?
Formal Problems Arising from the Theatre's New Content
Stage Design for the Epic Theatre
From a Letter to an Actor
Some of the Things that can be Learnt from Stanislavsky
Theaterarbeit: an editorial note
Notes on Erwin Strittmatter's Play Katzgraben
Study of the First Scene of Shakespeare's Coriolanus
Cultural Policy and Academy of Arts
Conversation about being Forced into Empathy
Classical Status as an Inhibiting Factor
Can the Present-day World be Reproduced by Means of Theatre?
Appendices to the 'Short Organum'
'Dialectics in the Theatre': an editorial note
Our London Season
Other English Translations