By Brecht, Bertolt; Brecht, Bertolt; Bial, Henry; Martin, Carol
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Additional info for Brecht sourcebook
Does the epic insistence on “learning-plays” turn theatre into a dull lecture? It is a fallacy to suppose that a good play does not teach anything. Even the stupidest play teaches something—if only stupid banalities. Epic says healthy plays bring clarity to their audiences. Of course, no lecture has a right to be dull. Didactic theatre, especially, has the obligation to use all its colorful resources in order to make its teaching in the highest degree entertaining. Brecht’s stage productions, while unorthodox in form, have always been fascinating experiences.
The performer wishes to appear alien to the spectator. Alien to the point of arousing surprise. This he manages by seeing himself and his performance as alien. In this way the things he does on the stage become astonishing. By this craft everyday things are removed from the realm of the self-evident. A young woman, a fisherman’s daughter, is shown on the stage, rowing a boat. She stands up and steers the (non-existent) boat with a little oar that hardly comes down to her knees. The current runs faster.
Many people also attacked the epic theatre, claiming it was too moralistic. Yet moral utterances were secondary in the epic theatre. Its intention was less to moralize than to study. And it did study; but then came the rub: the moral of the story. Naturally, we cannot claim that we began making studies just because studying was so much fun and not for any concrete reason, or that the 2 THEATRE FOR LEARNING 27 results of our studies then took us completely by surprise. Undoubtedly there were painful discrepancies in the world around us, conditions that were hard to bear, conditions of a kind not only hard to bear for moral reasons.
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