Bertolt Brecht

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Bertolt Brecht. Brecht was born Augsburg, Germany in 1898. He then attended university in Munich in 1917. It was while he was at university that he witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution which was the first event to influence him. Brecht wanted what had occurred in Russia to repeat itself in Germany as he saw all there was to gain from a Revolution. This was the first influence that gave Brecht his voice in social and political issues. In 1918 Brecht was called up for World War 1 as a medical orderly. Here he witnessed some of the worst medical injuries created by the war. This experience made him an extreme pacifist. This was the second most influential event that took place which in turn caused him to be in opposition to those international opinionated political powers. He saw them as being capitalist populations, sending innocent men to be murdered meaninglessly, for their own efficient profitable gain. He felt misery as the human potential completely contradicted its entire meaning by the brute actions of humans around the world. Marxism was the influence that gave Brecht hope that there was good within humans although some needed re-awakening. He had seen the Russian Revolution and witnessed the collapse of Germany after World War 1 and the fall of the Royal Family of Europe. This all influenced Brecht to write his first play Baal in 1918. This raw play and episodic structure was the youth of Brecht’s later well-known work, which inhabited a more grotesque quality. His work looks at the incapability one has to have power over the lust and greed in the world. He uses the element of shock in his plays as he relates to his yearning for change and fury at his experiences. It was this yearning to bring change via the use of shock that bought us epic theatre. In 1922 Brecht went to Berlin and this experienced gave him the influence for all his later work. Here he observed real theatre and the cabaret, parts of theatre he never knew existed. This influence made him more culturally aware and gave him the knowledge to develop his work. Aesthetic theatre was influenced by expressionalism, the use of various scenes without any rational order. He discarded ‘Drawing room comedy’, realism and naturalism. Instead he took influences from Edwin Piscator whom considered theatre as a device for political education. Edwin Piscator used different means in which to convey his political message. He used news-real, projections and captions to portray the background knowledge of the play. He also used great chorus scenes, perceived in traditional Broadway or West- End performances, to demonstrate the significance of the play.
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