Bertolt Brecht workshop

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Bertolt Brecht workshop

  1. 1. Bertolt Brecht – an introduction 1898-1956 <ul><li>Played a huge part in influencing modern theatre as we know it today, and you will be employing many of his ideas, theories and practices in the way you work without realising it. </li></ul>
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Brecht was a playwright, a director (of his own plays and other peoples) and author of a lot of commentary on how theatre should be created. </li></ul><ul><li>His theories changed during his lifetime. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Life and Background <ul><li>Brecht was born in Ausburg, Germany in 1898 and lived there until the early 1920s. </li></ul><ul><li>He was born into a fairly affluent family and studied medicine at University of Munich before returning to Augsburg and serving in an army hospital during the first world war. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Background continued <ul><li>Developed an ‘anti-war’ sentiment in response to the horrors he saw. </li></ul><ul><li>He had an ‘anti-bourgeois’ attitude that reflected his anger at the way society had experienced war. </li></ul><ul><li>He had an interest in Marxism as a way forward for the stability of Germany </li></ul><ul><li>He developed an interest in the movement in art and literature known as Expressionism </li></ul>
  5. 5. Lehrstucke: Learning Plays <ul><li>In the second phase of his writing Brecht started to explore the ideas of ‘ Epic Theatre ’ and the notion of instruction through plays. </li></ul><ul><li>He became a fully fledged Marxist and spoke out against the Nazi party </li></ul>
  6. 6. Brecht in Exile <ul><li>1933 Brecht was forced to go into exile to escape the Nazis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Switzerland, Denmark, Hollywood) </li></ul><ul><li>In Germany his books were destroyed and his citizenship withdrawn. It was during this exile that he wrote most of his great plays, further developing the idea of Epic Theatre. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Brecht’s return to Germany <ul><li>In 1949 Brecht returned to a divided Germany where he formed his own company the Berliner Ensemble. </li></ul><ul><li>His contributions to theatre and his significance as a theatre practitioner were eventually recognised in the 1950s. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Key Concepts <ul><li>Stanislavski work was concerned with empathy, feelings and the heart. </li></ul><ul><li>Brecht could be considered as someone concerned with distance, thinking and reason </li></ul>
  9. 9. Epic Theatre <ul><li>Audience relationship : </li></ul><ul><li>The Verfremdungseffekt </li></ul><ul><li>(The alienation effect) </li></ul><ul><li>He wanted his audience to both engage emotionally in a scene but be able to stand outside it to think about it and make a judgment on it. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Actor <ul><li>He felt his actors should ‘demonstrate’ rather than ‘become’ a role. </li></ul><ul><li>He saw them as storytellers, who could play many parts and have a view of the characters they were playing. </li></ul><ul><li>He saw character being determined by circumstances. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Montage <ul><li>The story itself could be fragmented, non-linear, episodic. </li></ul><ul><li>He showed how theatre could be like expressionistic art or film. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Staging: the anti-illusionary approach to theatre <ul><li>Brecht wanted the mechanics of the theatre shown to his audiences. </li></ul><ul><li>He did not want the audience to ‘suspend their disbelief’ but to always know that they were watching ‘fiction’ </li></ul><ul><li>Placards and Projection was also used to change scene quickly </li></ul><ul><li>Lighting was only used to illuminate not to create mood. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Bertolt Brecht – a workshop 1898-1956
  14. 15. Learning Objectives <ul><li>To consider how performances could have been influenced by other plays, practitioners or key events in the world. </li></ul><ul><li>To develop an understanding of Epic Theatre </li></ul>
  15. 16. Rehearsing Theatre: Brecht <ul><li>Brecht in Practice. </li></ul><ul><li>In order to understand Brecht’s EPIC THEATRE and concepts unlike exploring Stanislavski where you had small exercises to explore his system you will be set three separate practical tasks that explore epic theatre as a whole. </li></ul>
  16. 17. Group work: Stage 1 - The Accident. <ul><li>In groups 3-4, There has been a road accident, and as a passer-by you have been a spectator to it. </li></ul><ul><li>Agree the facts of the story and then each of you work out your version of events. </li></ul><ul><li>Show these versions to each other to see how different they can be from varying perspectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine you are telling the story to a group of people who did not see the accident. </li></ul><ul><li>Tell the story and include all of the characters within it. Feel free to impersonate them or caricature them. </li></ul><ul><li>Try to use gest, narration, dialogue and third person, descriptions and even token costumes to bring the story to life. </li></ul>
  17. 18. Evaluate <ul><li>This exercise allows the actor to demonstrate the characters within the story and use devices to make the story fresh and strange to the audience. It also supports the anti-illusionary aspect of epic theatre, in that the audience is aware that the passer-by is just telling the story and is not really any of the characters within it. However, it also gives the audience an insight into the attitude and judgement of the storyteller. </li></ul>
  18. 19. Group work: Stage 2 - A Well Known Story. <ul><li>In groups 4-5, Choose a story that you all know. For example The Three Little Pigs. </li></ul><ul><li>Decide what set, staging items or props you will use in advance. </li></ul><ul><li>You may choose to use no props at all but create and indicate the locations with members of your group forming shapes. </li></ul>
  19. 20. The Story: <ul><li>Improvise the story using dialogue and action only, with each member of your group playing a different character. </li></ul>
  20. 21. The Narrator: <ul><li>You must now build on your initial improvisation by adding narration. Each of your group must add a narrative speech to introduce their characters and describe some element of the action. </li></ul>
  21. 22. The Monologue: <ul><li>Give each of your characters an opportunity to present their thoughts and views with a short monologue. </li></ul>
  22. 23. The Attitude: <ul><li>You must now build on step three by allowing each of your characters an opportunity to speak in the third person, to indicate the attitudes and feeling of the character they are beginning to demonstrate. You could perhaps introduce and/or close their monologue with this. </li></ul>
  23. 24. The Placard: <ul><li>Create a number of placards with pens and card that do a number of things. Use some placards to introduce location, time and/or character. Use other placards to indicate the attitude and internal thoughts of the characters. </li></ul>
  24. 25. The Gest: <ul><li>Choose a moment, a scene or even a character and create a movement/body language sequence that demonstrates who they are and how they are feeling. This can be as simple as the wolf arriving at each of the houses with the expectation of a meal. </li></ul>
  25. 26. The Music: <ul><li>Choose a song or a piece of music that you think could introduce or comment on some action of the play. Be as topical as you want – choose a piece of current music from the charts or a film, or use something more traditional. Think about what you want the music to say when it is juxtaposed against a particular scene or movement. </li></ul>
  26. 27. Shifting Modes: <ul><li>You must now build on step seven by rearranging the chronology and structure of the story. You must create a series of episodes that are no longer in chronological order. You could perhaps begin with the ending. The episodes must also shift between different modes of presentation, such as scenes of monologue, extended narration, dialogue, action, song and gest. </li></ul>
  27. 28. Alienation: <ul><li>Perform your piece, and discuss whether you have found a way of making the story strange and fresh to the audience. If so, in what way? </li></ul>
  28. 29. HOMEWORK <ul><li>Write up detailed notes from the lesson. </li></ul><ul><li>Include all of the activities we have done together, including key words and their meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>Distance/Alienation effect </li></ul><ul><li>Marxism </li></ul><ul><li>Chorus </li></ul><ul><li>Placards </li></ul><ul><li>Gest, or Gestus. </li></ul>
  29. 30. Learning Objective <ul><li>To retell a News Story, making it strange to the audience so that they can view the crime with fresh perspective. </li></ul><ul><li>To practically explore elements of Brecht’s Epic Theatre. </li></ul>
  30. 31. Group work: Stage 3 – A News Story. <ul><li>Take your news story that deals with a serious crime. </li></ul><ul><li>Create a piece of EPIC THEATRE using montage and episodic scenes to retell the story of a serious crime. </li></ul><ul><li>Try to make the piece dialectical (To create an argument with all sides shown, and with the audience incited to play an active role in making their own mind up during the play) rather than didactic (To teach lessons and make points). </li></ul><ul><li>Try not to suggest or impose answers and judgements, but set out problems and questions for the audience to think about and decide upon. </li></ul><ul><li>Perform </li></ul>
  31. 32. Dramatic Theatre vs Epic Theatre – Opinion Line <ul><li>plot: has a beginning a middle and end and issues raised in the play are resolved </li></ul><ul><li>Dramatic Theatre </li></ul><ul><li>forces the audience to take decisions: makes it clear that there are problems to be solved </li></ul><ul><li>Epic Theatre </li></ul>
  32. 33. <ul><li>the spectator is made to face something </li></ul><ul><li>Epic </li></ul><ul><li>turns the spectator into an observer, but suggests that the spectator can question what she or he is seeing </li></ul><ul><li>Epic </li></ul>
  33. 34. <ul><li>growth: events follow each other in a smooth progression </li></ul><ul><li>Dramatic </li></ul><ul><li>reason: a theatre where the audience is made to question and think </li></ul><ul><li>Epic </li></ul>
  34. 35. <ul><li>  the human being is taken for granted </li></ul><ul><li>Dramatic </li></ul><ul><li>narrative: begins anywhere, continues and stops. Issues are not resolved </li></ul><ul><li>Epic </li></ul>
  35. 36. HOMEWORK <ul><li>Write up detailed notes from the lesson. </li></ul><ul><li>Include all of the activities we have done together, including key words and their meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>Distance/Alienation effect </li></ul><ul><li>Marxism </li></ul><ul><li>Chorus </li></ul><ul><li>Placards </li></ul><ul><li>Gest, or Gestus. </li></ul>

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