Monday, April 30, 2007

On Brecht

So, reading Martin Esslin's biography of Brecht, and (of course) it's making me think about my style. The question I've always had about Brecht is: if he's a communist, and his plays seem to have the same sort of goal as my plays (social change through new approaches to theatre) why don't i like his plays?

I've never seen one produced, and i really should. but this whole alienation effect thing doesn't come across very well in the text. (though recent Von Trier movies do seem to pull it off)

My initial reaction to his actual personal history part of the biography was "holy shit, this guy is awesome. he walks the walk that i only talk." Kindred spirits in many ways, perhaps my new hero. It was the first time i was inspired by someone else's biography. a strange experience especially considering that i don't really like what I've read of his plays.

Later on his personal history and I take divergent paths. he got to close to the wrong kind of communism. though, if i were around at that time, when that was the only kind of communism, and when that kind of communism was getting shit done- not exactly good shit, but shit none-the-less, i may have made the same error. Especially considering the alternative was, well, Hitler.

Then reading about his play writing style, i find the explanation. First off, he was a poet. That puts marks against him right off the bat in my book. Second, he was writing in German and (according to Esslin) his style doesn't translate well. Third, his writing is influenced by all kindsa baggage. He was satirising the high German drama, idealizing low folk art, and exploring Japanese and American myths. All things that i have no interest in. At that time they were all probably really interesting and important, exotic even, but now, for me... yawn.

So, then perhaps what i should aim to do is to achieve the alienation effect in a way that Brecht wasn't able to achieve because this baggage and clutter sent him on the wrong track. Some audience members i talk to seem to think i achieve it already, unintentionally, so i might be on to something. More on this subject later, once I'm done with the book.

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