Brecht, Baal, Barton
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Bertolt Brecht, German dramatist of the first half of the twentieth century, wrote extensively about his dramatic work throughout his life. In essays, he argued for the development of a theatre of the “scientific age” wherein a play would not merely entertain audiences, but educate them as well. Brecht abandons what he calls the “Aristotelian” theatre, which celebrates the eternal man forever in an emotional struggle against fate, in favor of an“ epic theatre,” which appeals to reason and shows man in an unknown social process. Theatre professionals, scholars, and critics continue to debate the exact tenets of the epic theatre and the effective methods for creating epic productions. In Brecht, Baal, Barton, I attempt to define a method for creating the epic theatre building on the combined directorial approaches of Brecht and John Barton, a twentieth century stage director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In the first two chapters, I introduce the two dramatists and describe their individual approaches to the stage. I then expand Barton’s acting method for playing Shakespearean characters into an epic method for playing Brechtian characters. Following these chapters, I describe my application of this epic method to a full production of Brecht’s first play, Baal. In the final chapter, I conclude that the production succeeded as an intellectually provocative performance, and as a demonstration of the epic method in its early developmental stages.