Brechtian Theatre

Grades 10 - 12
Available Terms:
Terms 1 - 4
Book Online

Delve into the captivating world of Bertolt Brecht and his revolutionary concept of “Epic Theatre.” This theatrical approach, known as “Episches Theater” in German, was pioneered by Brecht, who challenged the traditional dramatic conventions of his time. At its core, Epic Theatre aims to disrupt the conventional relationship between the audience and the characters or actions presented on stage.

Fundamental principles and techniques associated with Epic Theatre, as proposed by Brecht, include:

  1. Narration: Epic Theatre often employs narration, unlike traditional theatre, where the plot unfolds directly through character interactions. Narrators, or even actors themselves, may step out of character to provide the audience commentary, insights, or contextual information. This technique keeps the audience engaged in a critical, reflective mode rather than becoming emotionally absorbed in the narrative.
  2. Direct Address to the Audience: Brecht encouraged actors to break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience. This technique reminds viewers that they are spectators, not participants, and enables them to analyze the action critically.
  3. Placards and Signs Projection: Visual aids such as placards, signs, or projections convey key messages, themes, or slogans. These are visual reminders of the play’s intended social or political commentary.
  4. Upending Dramatic Tension: Traditional drama often builds suspense and emotional tension to captivate the audience. In contrast, Epic Theatre seeks to disrupt this emotional engagement, encouraging viewers to question and analyze the unfolding events rather than becoming emotionally invested.
  5. Disjointed Time Sequences: Brecht experimented with nonlinear storytelling, incorporating flashbacks and flash-forwards. This non-chronological approach challenges the audience to piece together the narrative puzzle actively.

Students can authentically engage with Brecht’s distinctive theatre style by learning and applying these techniques and conventions. They will discover how Epic Theatre encourages critical thinking, reflection, and an analytical perspective on the theatrical experience, ultimately fostering a deeper understanding of the complex socio-political themes often explored in Brecht’s works.

Devised by: Clint Bolster
Directed by: Clint Bolster

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"Clint Bolster has recently conducted a very successful two week Mask and Movement Training Intensive with the first year Bachelor of Creative Arts students at USQ. He designed his classes to meet the specific needs of these students. He also designed his classes to meet the learning outcomes dictated within the BCA course requirements. Clint’s passion for mask is infectious, creating a learning environment that is nurturing as well as challenging. His experience as a mask performer offers the students a unique insight into the entertainment industry. His big bright personality encourages a sense of play, openness and creativity in the classroom. Over the fortnight period of Clint’s residency at USQ there was a marked improvement in the students’ physical confidence. He introduced them to skills that are transferable to any theatrical genre they wish to explore. Moreover, Clint guided the students in their practical understanding of theatre-making, collaboration and performance . My students and I agree that Clint Bolster is a great asset to the theatrical education of young people."★★★★★

University Of Southern Queensland, School of Creative Arts Theatre Toowoomba QLD