BRECHT IN PRACTICE
A Stylized Production?

As can be seen in the text on the importance of performing processes on stage, breaking down the actors’ work into a series of movements, gestures and speeches, performed one after the other, can give the impression that Brecht is offering a stylized theatre. However, that interpretation would not be completely accurate.

Stylization is a term closely associated with the theatre of the Russian practitioner Vsevolod Meyerhold. In his book on the director, Jonathan Pitches notes how Meyerhold understood the term as something that suggested a reduction of complex material to its essence, the expansion of performative expression, and a close attention to rhythm (see Vsevolod Meyerhold, p. 52). None of these criteria properly apply to Brecht’s theatre. The Brechtian director is not reducing material to its essence; instead s/he interprets the material for its social features and sets them out clearly. Performative expression isn’t necessarily expanded; performance is rather structured differently, to emphasize social aspects. Rhythm, however, is important because it loads the sequences with meaning: a smooth sequence of actions and lines says something very different from one peppered by pauses or divided by one central pause.

So, although Brechtian theatre is not naturalistic, it isn’t stylized either, in the sense Meyerhold ascribed to it. Instead, it is a form of heightened realism, with an emphasis on the social elements that influence and affect human interaction.

 


BRECHT IN PRACTICE - Copyright 2017 © Prof. David Barnett | All Rights Reserved

David Barnett
Professor of Theatre
University of York

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