Bertolt viewer could forget about their lives for a


Bertolt Brecht was a famous playwright, poet, and
practitioner. Brecht’s early work was inspired by social issues which turned
into political poetry and plays; Brecht implemented many theories and
techniques into his work. Brecht’s work was heavily influenced by Karl Marx’s
theories of socialism as well as Chinese theatre. In this report, I will
discuss whether I feel Brecht’s methods disagree with the statement; and
exploring how he employs techniques to convey social and political messages
effectively through his work.

The statement is questioning whether a performer’s technical
ability can be seen to reduce the freedom to portray certain emotions and
messages; freedom of expression can be defined as ‘the power or right to
express one’s opinion without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty’. I feel
as though Brecht’s methods disagree with the statement, due to the fact that he
uses techniques to convey social and political messages. He does not convey
these messages personally but employs actors to illustrate his didactic
statements. Brecht uses a range of techniques which are used to deliver these
messages, the purpose is to inject an idea into the mind of the audience,
forcing them to think. Brecht was committed to Marxist theories; these are
about social justice. Brecht questioned money, power, and status; how this
affects workers and the structures of society. Brecht had techniques but they
were performed with a purpose for precision. Theatre was used as a form as
escapism, somewhere where the viewer could forget about their lives for a while
– Brecht hated this idea, he thought that it was a waste of an audience’s time,
he wanted people to question and challenge what was going on. His theory was to
make the audience connect to the situation but does not want them to get
emotionally attached. I believe that it is this that makes Brecht and an
excellent example of a practitioner who is able to harness techniques as an
effective method for freedom of speech and expression.

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Brecht created a new form of theatre, called epic theatre,
it was designed to make the audience question what they were watching. Epic
theatre involved many different theatre practitioners who responded to the
political issues of the time; epic theatre originated from the base of three
very different styles of theatre, melodrama, naturalism, and realism. Brecht
created a technique called the Verfremdungseffekt effect (v-Effect). The
V-effect was used to direct the audience’s attention to something new; by
interrupting the rhythm of the scene, this way the audience stops getting
attached to the situation and emotions. In order to break the audience’s
attention, they would use techniques such as placards, singing speech and
breaking the 4th wall. Brecht wanted his audience to be ‘consciously critical
observers’, partaking in the theatre experience on more than just an empathetic
level. Brecht wanted the actors to only portray the storyline and not get
emotionally attracted to the character, this is the complete opposite to Stanislavski’s
purpose. Konstantin Stanislavski was another practitioner in Brecht’s time, his
methods and techniques opposed Brecht’s. Stanislavski believed in naturalism,
this meant that the actor would have to prepare themselves as if they were the
real person, this is called method acting; both Brecht and Stanislavski wanted
to take a different approach, they wanted the challenge the existing systems
within the theatre.

Brecht created a technique called ‘Spass’. Brecht had an
idea that comedy could be a good way to deliver the message as it would keep
the audience engaged while later on forcing them to think more in-depth about
the issues. Spass was also used to break the tension in particular scene, he
wanted to prevent the build-up of tension on characters as it could add to
their emotional journey. Spass came in many different forms, such as a comedic
song, slapstick, and physical comedy. An example of where Spass was used was in
one of Brecht’s most popular plays, ‘the resistible rise of Arturo Ui’, this
play follows a narrative which was often compared to the ruling of Adolf
Hitler; this is due to the fact that the themes covered within the play reflect
bribery, corruption, and death.

One of Brecht’s most famous plays was The Caucasian Chalk
Circle, this particular play follows the story of a young peasant girl who
rescues a baby but ironically becomes a better mother its original wealthy
parents. The story is told by a musician, he tells the peasants story, this
keeps the audience aware of the narrative; this form of narration also
intertwines with the main body of the play. The reason Brecht chose to use this
particular technique was due to the fact that he wanted to keep reminding the
audience that it was only a play. The singer took on the thoughts of the
characters and enhanced the thoughts to make the play more dramatic and
interesting; the narrator was used to enhance the scenes as well as to convey
important messages directly to the audience. This particular technique subverts
the statement in question as this is one of the ways that Brecht showed his
freedom of expression, he wanted to deliver the message in an uncomplicated way
that the audience would definitely get. 
The moral of the play was to ask questions about power and who was
entitled to own particular things.

An example of how Brecht disagrees with the question is by
his train of narrative, a play usually follows a natural equilibrium which is
composed of single-strand narrative; Brecht did not like this, so he decided to
create a new strand of narrative called fractured narrative which means that
the order of the play is non-linear and the order of events jump in time.

Some of the work Brecht did was episodic which meant that
parts of the play would stand alone, the purpose of this was to have a
continual breakdown of tension between characters; too much tension could have
lead up to emotional connections from the audience.  Another example of Brecht’s work is ‘The Good
Person of Setzuan’, this story also is led by a narrator. The narrator (Wong
the water seller) opens with a monologue, directed to the audience, he begins
to explain his theory that some of the highest-ranking gods are on their way to
the city of Setzuan. The play follows the story of Wong and his attempt to help
the gods with restoring the happiness of Setzuan. This play is one of Brecht’s
most recognized as in incorporates many different techniques which were seen to
be odd at that time, some of these skills include face painting, physical
theatre and many more. The set of the play would be used as a distraction, the
ensemble would appear from out of the many different doors and windows, and
this would direct the audience’s attention to something other than the
dialogue. Props played a very important part of this play, the purpose of props
were to allow the audience to identify what was happening within the scene as
well as to create more distraction. This play also disagrees with the statement
as the techniques used were used in a way which would not require any accuracy.
The purpose of the play was to distract.

In conclusion, Brecht’s methods disagree with the statement,
he uses a large variety of techniques which are used as a platform to
communicate his messages, largely through the use of epic theatre (didactical theatre).
The stories he told always had a moral; a deeper message which was communicated
but never directly spoken. I have found that most of Brecht’s work has had a
substantial impact on theatre and how it is performed today, modern writers and
directors use his range of techniques to further develop and enhance their
work. Brecht has successfully managed to use techniques as a tool for freedom
of expression.