when I read about how Brecht was influenced by l Chinese theatre al lot.
He also had an original and inspired talent to bring out a dynamic theatrical style to express his views.
Brecht definitely wanted his audience to remain interested and engaged by the drama otherwise his message would be lost. It was emotional investment in the characters he aimed to avoid
His approach to theatre suits work which has a political, social or moral message. You might want to explore a theme or issue and make your audience consider varying viewpoints or sides to an argument.
Gestus, another Brechtian technique, is a clear character gesture or movement used by the actor that captures a moment or attitude rather than delving into emotion.
Could the audience tell by the actor’s gestures alone what was happening in the scene?
Brecht didn’t want the actors to be the character onstage, only to show them as a type of person. Brecht will often refer to his characters by archetypal names, such as ‘The Soldier’ or ‘The Girl’.
The interpretation will be built on the character’s social role and why they need to behave as they do, rather than looking inwardly at emotional motivation.So we judge the character and their situation, rather than just empathising with them.
It’s worth listening to the song ‘Mack the Knife’ from The Threepenny Opera by Brecht and Kurt Weil. Notice how the musical arrangement and melody are upbeat and joyous, yet the lyrics are sinister and dark. This is a very Brechtian approach. One of the most famous lines from this work would still appeal to a modern audience: “Who is the bigger criminal: he who robs a bank or he who founds one?”
Gestus is also gesture with social comment.
Epic theatre also shows an argument. It’s a clear political statement. The audience remains objective and watches a montage or a series of scenes. Standing outside the action emotionally, the audience can study the story objectively and should recognise social realities.
* The narration needs to be told in a montagestyle.
* Techniques to break down the fourth wall, making the audience directly conscious of the fact that they are watching a play.
* Use of a narrator. Because this character is outside the character framework, they change the relationship with the audience.
* Use of songs or music. Songs and dances are likely to provoke a more objective viewing, particularly if what you’re watching is serious and not the schmaltzy environment of a typical musical.
* Use of technology. If you project ideas onto a screen in a slide show or even have a still image there throughout each scene, it makes the audience analyse more thoroughly.
* Use of signs. If an actor starts each scene with a placard naming the scene or you have a board which is changed at the start of each scene, you’re reminding the audience about the fact that they are watching a play.
* Use of freeze frames / tableaux. This is obviously unnatural in the simple sense of that word, and should make the audience think about the frozen moment
As a political writer, Brecht would surely have expected a modern production to address current issues whilst remaining true to his ideals.