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Epic Theater Essay

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Social change is defined as an ‘alteration in the basic structures of a social group or society’. Social change occurs when a group of people change their minds and beliefs on what is socially acceptable, this is usually due to an event or change in public opinion. Brecht’s epic theatre can be used as a vehicle for social change as it is used to convey a message to the audience.

Bertolt Brecht was born on the 10th of February 1898 in Augsburg, Germany. As a child he was unpopular, with outspoken views, which were thought to be beyond his years of knowledge. In order to avoid the war he enrolled himself in Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich; however, in 1918 he was inevitably recruited and forced to work as a medical orderly. In 1933 Brecht was exiled after disagreeing with Adolf Hitler’s views, he resided in America and was banned from German theatres after his books were burnt and his citizenship was revoked. During his time in exile, Brecht wrote three of his most well known plays; The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1944-1945), Mother Courage and her Children (1938-1939) and The Good Woman of Szechwan (1938-1940). Brecht’s plays were all written in the style of epic theatre. A phrase coined by Erwin Piscator in the 1920s.

Epic theatre is a style of theatre in which the audience is positioned to think as opposed to realism where the audience is positioned to feel. The purpose of making the audience think is so that they are able to have a clear, unbiased opinion on the situation being depicted in the play. Epic Theatre essentially retells a story already familiar to the audience, in the form of a fable such as the Caucasian Chalk Circle or in the form or, by retelling historical events.

Verfremdungseffecte (Alienation E...


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...in the story. The characters speaking in third person undermine the love story between Grusha and Simon, as Brecht believed the motivations behind the characters themselves were unimportant and only the story they were involved in was vital.

Brecht’s theatre could be used as an effective vehicle for social change. His style of epic theatre highlights social issues and portrays them in a way so that viewers have no emotional ties and only clear, unbiased opinions, making it easy to make decisions on the social justices and injustices of the stories. Epic theatre can be used to alter opinions as it educates people and severs ties of empathy so that people can clearly use their minds to make judgements. This would be helpful for changing societal beliefs as people are inclined to depend on emotions to make evaluations which is sometimes ineffective.










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