Epic Theatre Essay

Brecht called his theatre epic theatre, and his opinions on performance were completely the opposite of Artaud. His plays or performances were those of which were almost a story, he would tell a story usually historical, on a large scale, including a number of people in a series of events over a long period.

Brecht tried to make the audience feel as if they were observers and tried to remind them that they were almost scientists trying to form an opinion on what they are seeing, not on their emotions. Whether it be a sad or happy event he wanted the audience to not be engaged by the actors.

At the heart of all Brecht’s performances is the idea of alienation. He attempts to make things strange by either strange actions or words in gobbly gook. The idea of this was to constantly surprise and challenge the audience whilst reminding the audience that the meaning of this is to simply tell a story whilst putting forward a profound a political point.

By using certain pieces of furniture Brecht was able to set a scene or even a complete location. Brecht had no front curtain and sometimes would, in front of the audience’s eyes change the set to move the scene along.


The lightning of Brecht was very unique in the fact that he had a bright flood like light. This to also therefore helped in disabling the audience forming strong connections with the actors. Quite often Brecht would employ the usage of a narrator to furthermore distance the audience from the characters emotions and feeling, as the audience would be being told how the actors are feeling rather than having those feelings expressed.

The usage of song was another form of alienation, by breaking the mood or the connection of character and audience within a play by song or chant would remind the audience that they are merely observers. The songs were used to say something to a character or comment on the play, even in some cases it was used to briefly summarise the message of the play.

Brecht was interested like Artaud in Asian theatre. He was interested in expressing feelings of a character through stylised movement in an unemotional manner. His actors were encouraged to use formal gestures and to learn extra languages or voices of segregated social classes. His actors were often encouraged to practice performing in front of a mirror as to make sure they don’t show emotions through expression but only trough distorted stylised movements.

Brecht also had enormous vocal demands on his actors. They were required to speak different dialects, sing, use mechanical and strange sounds, not speak in human noises and be able to speak in a number of class ascents. Often the words or monologues in brecht’s work it was poetic and like a speech, yet simple and full of emotion. Strange or distorted noises or speech however often broke this emotion. Class distinctions were very carefully employed in the plays as to send very strong political messages.

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