Teacher Guide

The Threepenny Opera Lesson Plan

Introduction to The Threepenny Opera

Written in 1928, The Threepenny Opera was playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill's first full-length collaboration. (They first worked together in 1927 when Weill set some of Brecht's poems to music, poems that would later be the root of the opera they wrote in 1930, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.) The play is based on The Beggar's Opera, a 1791 play by British playwright John Gay that brutally satirizes the London of that time; Brecht, along with his collaborator and uncredited co-author Elisabeth Hauptmann, adapted the story to reflect Brecht's nascent Marxist ideals and manifest his ideas of the "epic theatre": theatre that didn't provide a catharsis but...

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