Exploring Practitioners Lesson 1: Bertolt Brecht and Epic Theatre

Task 1

Watch this clip on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-828KqtTkA produced by the National Theatre. First take notes on what the professionals say about the style of theatre created by Bertolt Brecht.

Watch the video again and then take some notes on your thoughts on the clips on the production of Mother Courage that you see.

Task 2

Download this worksheet or go to this web page. Here is a list of websites and YouTube videos you can use to do some research into Bertolt Brecht and Epic Theatre. Access what you need (there is a lot there) so that you feel you’ve got a sound understanding of the genre of theatre.

Take notes under these headings:

  • What is Epic Theatre?
  • What are the most important ways of working with Epic Theatre?
  • Why would a theatre company choose to make a piece of Epic Theatre?
  • What problems do you have to over come when making a piece of Epic Theatre?
  • What were the key influences on Bertolt Brecht creating Epic Theatre based on his life experiences?

Task 3

Read this pitch for a production.

You have been asked to direct a production of a new devised piece of theatre based on the song: “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon. Click here to see the lyrics of the song and here to hear the song. We want the performance to focus on the big issues that the song brings into focus. We want to communicate to the audience a message about hope over injustice, courage over hatred and optimism over hatred.

Take some time to think about what you how you would use Epic Theatre to create a piece of theatre that meets this pitch. Use this worksheet as a knowledge organiser for different techniques that Brecht used to create his performances.

Task 4

Write your pitch now. It must be no more than half a page of A4 type or writing. It needs to cover the following points:

  1. Overview of your content: What topic or issue do you want to cover? Why do you want to cover it?
  2. Details of initial ideas: How do you think that this will be performed? What ideas do you initially have to turn this into a performance?
  3. Style: How will you use specific Brechtian techniques in your performance? Use the knowledge organiser to help you.
  4. Audience: Why would an audience be interested in coming to see this performance? What will they learn from it?