Known for his experimental, modernist Epic Theatre and its 'alienation effect', Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956) sought to break down the division between high art and popular culture.
The Threepenny Opera, his collaboration with composer Kurt Weill, was a milestone in musical theatre, and plays like Mother Courage and Galileo changed the course of modern drama and aesthetic theory. Philip Glahn looks at Brecht's life and works through his plays and stories, poems and political essays in order to illustrate how they trace a lifelong attempt to relate to specific social, economic and political circumstances.
Framed by two World Wars, the Weimar Republic and a global depression, Nazism and exile and the East German version of socialist reality, Brecht's own life became a project, illuminating and intervening in the ongoing crisis of modern experience, shaped by capitalism, nationalism and visions of social utopia.
Glahn reveals how Brecht upended and used as weapons the language and gestures of philosophers and beggars, bureaucrats and thieves, priests and workers. The results are scenes, chapters, rhymes and questions that are at once funny and tragic, popular and complex, sharp, accessible and full of pleasure in the contradictions of being an active part in the production of history.
Bertolt Brecht will interest scholars and students of modern theatre, as well as those who wish to know more about the life and work of this pivotal modern dramatist.