Space and Time in Epic Theater

November 2000
15 black and white illustrations
256 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571131867
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC PER011020, LIT013000, LIT006000

Space and Time in Epic Theater

The Brechtian Legacy

Sarah Bryant-Bertail

The development of epic theater before, during, and after Brecht's time, and analysis of epic productions, showing the form's continued relevance.
Bertolt Brecht and the director Erwin Piscator developed epic theater in the 1920s because they found Western realism limited to the single perspective of an individual, and thus unable to confront the new realities: technological warfare, revolution, the metropolis, and the mass media, among others. The epic stage juxtaposed the old media of actors and scenery with new media, including film, photography, and electronic sound. Bryant-Bertail provides analyses of theatrical productions in the epic tradition from before, during, and after Brecht's lifetime: Hasek's The Good Soldier Schwejk directed by Piscator; Mother Courage written and directed by Brecht; Lenz's The Tutor directed by Brecht; Ibsen's Peer Gynt in productions directed by Peter Stein and Rustom Bharucha; Büchner's Leon and Lena (& Lenz) directed by JoAnne Akalaitis; and Les Atrides (The House of Atreus) from Aeschylus and Euripides, directed by Ariane Mnouchkine. Bryant-Bertail shows that epic theater's relevance for politically engaged artists lies in its discovery that history, fate, and human nature are spatio-temporal constructs that may be reconstructed on stage.
Sarah Bryant-Bertail is associate professor in the School of Drama at the University of Washington.

Table of Contents

Ontroduction: Spatio-temporality as Sign in Epic Theater
Theater for the Age of Machanical Warfare: Piscator Directs The Good Soldier Schwejk
Into the Whirlwind: Bretch Directs Mother Courage
Gestic Writing and the True-Real Body: Brecht Adapts The Tutor
Peer Gynt as Epic Theater: Peter Stein in Berlin and Rustom Bharucha in India
JoAnne Akalaitis's Postmodern Epic Staging of Leon and Lena (& lenz)
Gender, Empire and the Body Politic: Ariane Mnouchkine's Les Atrides
Afterword: Epic Theater and the Imagination of History


Presents semiotics with a human face.... The discussions of individual productions are good and useful. CHOICE

The author blends production details, historical contexts, acting method, and postmodern theory to produce an excellent, detailed portrayal of epic theater in practice.... Bryant-Bertail'sinterpretations of performances are wonderful, fascinating explorations... MONATSHEFTE

... offers an informative account of the origins and practice of epic theatre and its developments since Brecht's work at the Berliner Ensemble. ARBITRIUM

The intricate relationships between text and performance are especially well articulated and insightful... COLLOQUIA GERMANICA

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