Epic Theatre: The Influences of Bertolt Brecht Essay

Epic Theatre: The Influences of Bertolt Brecht Essay

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“Theatre makes us think about power and the way our society works and it does this with a clear purpose, to make a change.”
The ideas of Bertolt Brecht (1898-1965) changed the theatre in many ways. Brecht along with Erwin Piscator developed the style of Epic theatre style contrasting to previous accepted styles. Presentational in form, Epic theatre is a vehicle for social comment through techniques such as: alienation, historification, eclectic influences (highly Asian), constructivism in scenery, disjointed and illogical scene placement, ordinary clothing and lighting, the use of music to detach the audience from emotion, placards and signs and projected images. Didactic in nature Brecht’s works aim to challenge the audience to assess socially accepted norms and educate them to injustices often overlooked by the public. The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Brecht, 1944) written during the time of Nazi Germany occupation has a clearly political and social focus.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle (CCC) is a play of two stories which eventually are interweaved. Scene 1 is a prologue to the action of the play that serves as a metaphor for the entire play “struggle between what is right legally and what right socially”. The protagonist from the first story is Grusha, a simple maid who sacrifices her safety and youth to protect Governor’s child. Scenes 2-4 focus exclusively on Grusha’s story. Scene 5 introduces the protagonist for the second story, the drunk judge Adzak. Scene 6 brings the two protagonists together and is the climatic action of the play. Scenes 5 and 6 focus more on social problems being that the base of society- the justice system. The audience experiences the drunken judge take bribes and rule in favour of thos...


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...onal connection. The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht is a perfect example of the conventions Epic theatre uses to alienate the audience form emotion connection in order to allow an objective viewing of the themes and issue presented. These being ones of social order: is the social structure and legal systems providing fair and just rulings and procedures? By examination of Post World War Two damages we see the effects of war then as a result consciously attempt to prevent it and change our situation. This is an effective way of challenging and informing the contemporary audience as it is visual and audibly dynamic as well as informative, the medium of live theatre is intense and it allows audience members to ascertain meaning together. This sparks discussion which will lead to the individual assessing and attempting to change the way in which society works.

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