BRECHT IN PRACTICE
Reality

Theatre-makers can take all manner of approaches to reality. Some, like the classical Realists, take it as read and seek to reproduce it. Others, like the Symbolists, understand it as a veil that hides a different set of truths. Brecht, as a practitioner profoundly influenced by his readings of Marx from the mid-1920s onwards, took a different stance.

For him reality was being continually created from the contradictions  that pervade any given society at any given time. That is, society was unstable, volatile and unpredictable; its contradictions meant that things could change and forge new realities. Consider:

  • the effects of a general election and the changes of policy that might ensue
  • the discovery of a new technology and the ways it might affect jobs, industry and our experience of everyday life
  • an act of war and the social, political and physical impact of industrial violence.

 

Yet change can also occur on a far smaller scale, too:

  • a lottery win or redundancy can transform a person’s fortunes and their views and behaviour
  • a newspaper, a television programme or an online article can change a person’s opinion of a politician, a store or a set of ideas, each with implications for the way they live their life
  • the death of a friend may lead to outrage at the conditions under which that person died or to a drive to improve the lot of people in similar conditions.

In each example, reality is remade after a material experience.

If reality is malleable, then change is always possible. Brecht sought to demonstrate this principle in his theatre practice.

 


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

David Barnett
Professor of Theatre
University of York

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