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Marxism: Bertolt Brecht

Marxism by Bertolt Brecht


Bertolt Brecht was a German writer and a thinker, who perhaps is given the same pedestal in Drama as Shakespeare, Primarily known as Dramatist and Theatre activist. Brecht wanted to revolutionized and redefine and the concept of Entertainment. He vouched for ‘Creative pleasure’, wrote radical texts and essays on theatre and propounded what is now called ‘epic theatre’. His theatre is best define as ‘dramatic vessel of radical didactism being influence by his Marxist believes. He introduces several theoretical techniques to incorporate his Marxist inclination in his work. Mainly the alienation effect didactism , breaking the forth wall, gestures, narration and use of song. In the article some reflection Brecht and acting. Martin Esslin describes the characteristics of three most commonly practice acting form in the 1920’s Germany. He points out the highly declamatory styled and artificial theatre, the naturalistic acting style used in the plays of Stringberg and Ibsen, and the anti-naturalistic performance style called expressionism.


Brecht was repulsed by the emotional intensity of such acting. Brecht emphasized that such works invoke the empathy of the audience while at the same time shutting down their critical faculty. He wanted the unreleased, the improvised spontaneous performance from a character which led him to devise the aforementioned theoretical techniques to bring out the verbosity of the performer rather than his emotional depth. And, Festus is one such devise to enable the performer to bring out and define the emotion within him and the context he is in. It is a combination of a gesture and a social meaning into one movement, stance or Vocal display. It can be alienating, as it is unusual and non realistic way of forcing the audience see the bigger picture of a situation.


Perhaps, one of Brechtian Theatre’s most important purpose is giving the audience a social context. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘Social Gest’as it is an action that allows the audience to understand something specific about the social circumstances presented on the stage. Brecht ‘A Short Organum for the Theatre’ expresses his belief that the theatre should comment on social, political and economic issue of contemporary time.

He wanted his audience to think about and comment on these issues. He longed for his works to enable the audience to become critical rather than mere emotional spectators. Being a writer of Commitment, he resolved to entirely negate the ‘entertainment emporiums’ and ‘the bourgeois narestics  business’.  He stressed the need of alienation, conscious distancing or detachment to enable the audience to critically analyse unheeded by empathy and cheap emotions. Through Gestus , Brecht wanted people to investigate their own body language as well as that of social class order, their mannerism and customs included. It is socially encoded expression that is consciously employed by an actor to achieve the aforementioned affect.

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