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Bertolt Brecht’s work across theater
The originality and dramatic talent of Bertolt Brecht, a German play writer and theater director, was formed in the 20’s of the last century when he was seeking to create a new modern theater. To his opinion, the visitors of the theater have not only be enjoyed, but taken a reasonable observing position. The innovative views of Brecht were aiming at transforming the world through the education by the contemporary theater.
Bertolt Brecht can rightfully be called a talented German writer, poet, art theorist, theater director, and public figure. As the play writer, he is second only after Shakespeare in popularity in the world. In our days, the theaters all over the world stage-manage his plays, opening in them all the new aspects that attract viewers. He acted simultaneously as a playwright and a theater theoretician with an idea to deeply reform the theater. Brecht’s aesthetics, his innovative view of the main tasks of drama and theater were reflected in his works “Against the theatrical routine” and “Towards a modern theater.”
Many theater critics consider Bertolt Brecht as one of the leaders of “the epic theater” movement. He emphasizes his disagreement with the most important, according to Aristotle, principles of the ancient tragedy, later perceived more or less by the whole world theater tradition. The playwright opposes the Aristotelian doctrine of catharsis. Catharsis is an extraordinary, higher emotional tension. This side of catharsis Brecht recognized and preserved for his theater. We can see emotional strength, pathos, an open manifestation of the passions in his plays. Brecht constantly tried to dispel the legends of the beauty of suffering and patience. Playwrights with the power of their talent should reveal all the motivations of the human behavior, in the moments of catharsis, like lightning, illuminate all the causes of human actions. And he tried to turn out the power of these causes to the absolute. That is why Brecht called the Aristotelian theater fatalist. Brecht saw a contradiction between the principle of reincarnation in the theater, the principle of dissolution of the author in the characters and the need for direct, visual identification of the philosophical and political position of the writer. Even in the most successful and tendentious in the best sense of the word traditional dramas, the author’s position, according to Brecht, was connected with the figures of the resonators. The playwright believed that the characters should be only living people, people in flesh and blood, with all their contradictions, passions, and actions. Brecht’s remarkable skill was manifested not only in the innovative and complex comprehension of the problems in the society, not only in brilliantly reproducing the intellectual life of heroes, but also in creating powerful and multifaceted characters, in revealing their emotional life.
Brecht used to break the illusion of a continuous development of events in the theater, destroys the magic of scrupulous reproduction of the reality. In his opinion, the theater is a true creativity, far surpassing the simple verisimilitude. He introduced the choruses and zigzags of the contemporary political cabaret, lyrical digressions characteristic of the poems, and philosophical treatises. Brecht considered the art of reincarnation as mandatory, but completely inadequate for the actor. He believed in the ability of the actor to demonstrate his personality on the stage, the personal civil position, and his human credo. Brecht believed that a person retains the capacity of the free choice and the responsible decision in the most difficult circumstances. This was manifested in his deep conviction that the bourgeois society, with all the strength of its corrupting influence, can not reshape mankind in the spirit of its principles. Brecht writes that the task of “the epic theater” is to make the audience to give up the illusion that everyone in the place of the depicted hero would act the same way.
Brecht emphasizes that the consistent struggle against fascism is not only the destruction of the Hitler’s state, but also the revolution of the proletariat, that were described in his poems “The Song Against the War”, “The Resolution of the Communards”, and “The Great October”. The Brecht novel presented the class stratification of society, class antagonism, and the dynamics of the struggle. The fascist crimes of the 1930s, according to Brecht, are not new, because British bourgeois of the beginning of the century largely anticipated the demagogic methods of Hitler. He struggled against fascism and protested against the demagogic fascist propaganda of the war and addressed his suggestions to that part of the German population that succumbed to this demagoguery. The war is depicted in his plays as an element, organically hostile to the human existence.
Summing up, we can say that Brecht is still relevant today with his abilities to see the world in all its complexity and contradictions, his heightened sense of the social justice, which he called bread of the people, and the desire to make a man kinder, and the environment of his dwelling brighter, more affable.