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The life and works of bertolt brecht

Until 1924 Brecht lived in Bavaria, where he was born, studied medicine Munich, 1917-21and served in an army hospital 1918. From this period date his first play, Baal produced 1923 ; his first success, Trommeln in der Nacht Kleist Preis, 1922; Drums in the Night ; the poems and songs collected as Die Hauspostille 1927; A Manual of Piety, 1966his first professional production Edward II, 1924 ; and his admiration for Wedekind, Rimbaud, Villon, and Kipling.

During this period he also developed a violently antibourgeois attitude that reflected his generation's deep disappointment in the civilization that had come crashing down at the end of World War I.

  1. The essence of his theory of drama, as revealed in this work, is the idea that a truly Marxist drama must avoid the Aristotelian premise that the audience should be made to believe that what they are witnessing is happening here and now. Although he managed to deflect accusations of being a Communist, he moved to Switzerland after the hearings.
  2. Brecht therefore argued that the theatre should not seek to make its audience believe in the presence of the characters on the stage--should not make it identify with them, but should rather follow the method of the epic poet's art, which is to make the audience realize that what it sees on the stage is merely an account of past events that it should watch with critical detachment. From this period date his first play, Baal produced 1923 ; his first success, Trommeln in der Nacht Kleist Preis, 1922; Drums in the Night ; the poems and songs collected as Die Hauspostille 1927; A Manual of Piety, 1966 , his first professional production Edward II, 1924 ; and his admiration for Wedekind, Rimbaud, Villon, and Kipling.
  3. Brecht was, first, a superior poet, with a command of many styles and moods. Critical and biographical works available in English include.

Among Brecht's friends were members of the Dadaist group, who aimed at destroying what they condemned as the false standards of bourgeois art through derision and iconoclastic satire. The man who taught him the elements of Marxism in the late 1920s was Karl Korsch, an eminent Marxist theoretician who had been a Communist member of the Reichstag but had been expelled from the German Communist Party in 1926.

Brecht, Bertolt

In Berlin 1924-33 he worked briefly for the directors Max Reinhardt and Erwin Piscator, but mainly with his own group of associates. With the composer Kurt Weill q. He also wrote what he called "Lehr-stucke" "exemplary plays" --badly didactic works for performance outside the orthodox theatre--to music by Weill, Hindemith, and Hanns Eisler. In these years he developed his theory of "epic theatre" and an austere form of irregular verse.

He also became a Marxist. In 1933 he went into exile--in Scandinavia 1933-41mainly in Denmark, and then in the United States 1941-47where he did some film work in Hollywood. In Germany his books were burned and his citizenship was withdrawn.

Bertolt Brecht

He was cut off from the German theatre; but between 1937 and 1941 he wrote most of his great plays, his major theoretical essays and dialogues, and many of the poems collected as Svendborger Gedichte 1939.

The plays of these years became famous in the author's own and other productions: He spent a year in Zurich, working mainly on Antigone-Modell 1948 adapted from Hulderlin's translation of Sophocles; produced 1948 and on his most important theoretical work, the Kleines Organon fur das Theater 1949; "A Little Organum for the Theatre".

  • As a producer he liked lightness, clarity, and firmly knotted narrative sequence; a perfectionist, he forced the German theatre, against its nature, to underplay;
  • His plays were banned in Germany in the 1930s, and in 1933, he went into exile, first in Denmark and then Finland;
  • In these years he developed his theory of "epic theatre" and an austere form of irregular verse;
  • He was cut off from the German theatre; but between 1937 and 1941 he wrote most of his great plays, his major theoretical essays and dialogues, and many of the poems collected as Svendborger Gedichte 1939;
  • During this period he also developed a violently antibourgeois attitude that reflected his generation's deep disappointment in the civilization that had come crashing down at the end of World War I;
  • During this period he also developed a violently antibourgeois attitude that reflected his generation's deep disappointment in the civilization that had come crashing down at the end of World War I.

The essence of his theory of drama, as revealed in this work, is the idea that a truly Marxist drama must avoid the Aristotelian premise that the audience should be made to believe that what they are witnessing is happening here and now.

For he saw that if the audience really felt that the emotions of heroes of the past--Oedipus, or Lear, or Hamlet--could equally have been their own reactions, then the Marxist idea that human nature is not constant but a result of changing historical conditions would automatically be invalidated. Brecht therefore argued that the theatre should not seek to make its audience believe in the presence of the characters on the stage--should not make it identify with them, but should rather follow the method of the epic poet's the life and works of bertolt brecht, which is to make the audience realize that what it sees on the stage is merely an account of past events that it should watch with critical detachment.

Hence, the "epic" narrative, nondramatic theatre is based on detachment, on the Verfremdungseffekt alienation effectachieved through a number of devices that remind the spectator that he is being presented with a demonstration of human behaviour in scientific spirit rather than with an illusion of reality, in short, that the theatre is only a theatre and not the world itself.

This led to formation of the Brechts' own company, the Berliner Ensemble, and to permanent return to Berlin.

ADDITIONAL MEDIA

Henceforward the Ensemble and the staging of his own plays had first claim on Brecht's time. Often suspect in eastern Europe because of his unorthodox aesthetic theories and denigrated or boycotted in the West for his Communist opinions, he yet had a great triumph at the Paris Theatre des Nations in 1955, and in the same year in Moscow he received a Stalin Peace Prize.

He died of a heart attack in East Berlin the following year.

  1. He died of a heart attack in East Berlin the following year.
  2. He also wrote what he called "Lehr-stucke" "exemplary plays" --badly didactic works for performance outside the orthodox theatre--to music by Weill, Hindemith, and Hanns Eisler. In 1933 he went into exile--in Scandinavia 1933-41 , mainly in Denmark, and then in the United States 1941-47 , where he did some film work in Hollywood.
  3. The training of actors in the Western theatre has since become more organized to take in concepts and programs from the earlier innovators. This led to formation of the Brechts' own company, the Berliner Ensemble, and to permanent return to Berlin.
  4. This led to formation of the Brechts' own company, the Berliner Ensemble, and to permanent return to Berlin. In Germany his books were burned and his citizenship was withdrawn.
  5. Henceforward the Ensemble and the staging of his own plays had first claim on Brecht's time. From this period date his first play, Baal produced 1923 ; his first success, Trommeln in der Nacht Kleist Preis, 1922; Drums in the Night ; the poems and songs collected as Die Hauspostille 1927; A Manual of Piety, 1966 , his first professional production Edward II, 1924 ; and his admiration for Wedekind, Rimbaud, Villon, and Kipling.

Brecht was, first, a superior poet, with a command of many styles and moods. As a playwright he was an intensive worker, a restless piecer-together of ideas not always his own The Threepenny Opera is based on John Gay's Beggar's Opera, and Edward II on Marlowea sardonic humorist, and a man of rare musical and visual awareness; but he was often bad at creating living characters or at giving his plays tension and shape.

As a producer he liked lightness, clarity, and firmly knotted narrative sequence; a perfectionist, he forced the German theatre, against its nature, to underplay. As a theoretician he made principles out of his preferences--and even out of his faults.

Collected works in the original German are available in an edition in 8 thin-paper or 20 paperback volumes; Gesammelte Werke 1967. This edition, however, is far from complete and the principles according to which it was edited are open to doubt.

A major collected edition of Brecht's work in English, under the joint editorship of John Willett and Ralph Manheim started publication with the first volume of Collected Plays 1970. Eric Bentley has edited Seven Plays by Bertolt Brecht 1961a series of paperback volumes of Brecht's plays, and has translated the poetry collection, Hauspostille 1927; Manual of Piety, 1966.

A good selection of Brecht's theoretical writings is Brecht on Theatre, trans. Critical and biographical works available in English include: A Choice of Evils 1959; revised edition under the title, Brecht: Copyright c 1995 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.