Mother Courage and Her Children

The Art of Alienation in Brecht's Work

Writing in the Germany of the 1920s, Brecht shattered the then staple notions of dramatic theatre, with his propagation of the Epic theatre. In terms of play righting, his was a move away from the Isben model of the well made play; in terms of acting as well he led a departure from the Stanislavsky style of realism. Interestingly enough, this maverick Marxist playwright was also highly didactic and authoritarian. Not only did he have a very specific brief for actors on how and how not to act, but he also made very clear the role and the function of the audience.

Impelled by a Marxist perspective he insisted that man and society could be intellectually analysed. His demands of drama were high; he wrote, "The urgent revolution of the theatre must start with a transformation of the stagewe do not ask for an audience, but a community, not a stage, but a pulpit." Theatre then, was an activity meant to be part of a larger social revolution. But Brecht did not ascribe to the "art reflects life" kind of philosophy, he was very well aware of the possibilities art held as a carrier of ideology. "If art reflects life" Brecht wrote "it does so with special mirrors". It was these "special...

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