Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) Biography
Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht • He was born on 10th Feb 1898 in Augsburg, Germany • Brecht was a sickly child, with a congenital heart condition and a facial tic, He suffered a heart attack at the age of twelve, but soon recovered and continued his education • While in school, he began writing and ended up co-founding and co-editing a school magazine called ‘The Harvest’ and wrote hid first play ‘The bible’ • Studied medicine in Munich (1917-1921) and served in a army hospital in 1918 during World War I • After thewar, he moved to Berlin where he was attracted to modern theater • Appointed as a consultant in 1924 in Deutches Theater in Berlin
In 1922, his play ‘Drums in the night’ opened and received the prestigious Kleist prize for young dramatist as a result • In 1923 his two plays ‘Jungle of Cities’ and ‘Baal’ were performed • First professional production – ‘Edward II’ in 1924
Violent antibourgeois attitude • Among his friends were members of the Dadaist group • Thought Marxism in the late 1920s with Karl Korsch, an eminent Marxist theoretician • He developed his theory of ‘epic theater’ and an austere form of irregular verse and became also a Marxist
The threepenny opera, 1928 Rise and fall of the city of Mahagonny, 1930
In 1933 to 1941 he went on exile in Scandinavia (mainly in Denmark) • Until 1947 he lived in the USA where he did some film work Hollywood • In this period, his books were burned and his citizenship was withdrawn • He was cut off German theater • In this period away from Germany, Brecht wrote most of his greatest plays, major theoretical essays and dialogues
Mother Courage and her Children • Mother courage and her Children, 1941 • The life of Galileo, 1943
The good woman of Setzuan, written in1943 • Herr Puntila and his man Matti, written in 1948 • Causation Chalk Circle, first produced in English – 1948, then in German 1949
Adaptation of Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’, directed together with Caspar Neher at the Chur Theater in 1948 • A little Organum for the Theater – his most important theoretical work
Verfremdungseffekt (alienation effect) Achieved through a number of devices that remind the spectator that he is being presented with a demonstration of human behaviour in scientific spirit rather than with an illusion of reality, in short, that the theatre is only a theatre and not the world itself.
Techniques*a lot of Brechts’ techniques derived from earlier works • Three-dimensional set pieces • Usage of machineries • Insistence on the actors demonstrating through physical disposition of the body their Gestus (attitude) • Predisposing the audience so that it concentrates on how and what will happen in advance
Differentiation from epic theater • The set and props were on stage only if the were necessary for telling the story • The lights were to be in full view of the audience, as were their operators • Music was meant to comment on or conflict with the action on stage • Structure of music halls so that each element of the play should operate on its own
Brecht wrote very few plays in his last years in Berlin, none of them as famous as his previous works. Some of his most famous poems, however, including the "Buckower Elegies", were from this time. Brecht died in 1956 of a heart attack at the age of 58.
References • http://www.cs.brandeis.edu/~jamesf/goodwoman/brecht_bio.html • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertolt_Brecht • http://www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/authors/about_bertolt_brecht.html