ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bertolt Brecht’s Theatre of War

The theatre work of Bertolt Brecht reminds us that art must find a way to not only confront, but also challenge reality.

Epic theatre (a termed coined by director Erwin Piscator in 1924) refers to the movement in German theatre that emerged in the mid-20th century to respond to the changing political climate after Germany’s defeat in World War I. Its main practitioners included Erwin Piscator, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold, and, most fam­ously, Bertolt Brecht. Marking a departure from both the ­romanticism of traditional German theatre and the later naturalistic approach, it aimed at presenting social and moral dilemmas to the audience in an objective and rational manner. It redefined several aspects of theatre in Germany, not only in terms of the issues it dealt with and their presentation, but also styles of production. Brecht, while not the original or the only practitioner of epic theatre, eventually became its most recognised face.

Born on 10 February 1898 in Bavaria, Brecht was brought up in an upper-middle-class household. His life and works were profoundly shaped by World WarI. During the war, he adopted a fiercely pacifist stance and started publishing his poems, short stories, and plays locally. Working as a medical orderly at a local military hospital made him confront the trauma of the war at close quarters, which led to his cynical and critical poems about the war, such as “Legend of the Dead Soldier” (1918) and “General Your Tank Is a Powerful Vehicle” (1938).

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Updated On : 12th Mar, 2019
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