February 10 ~ Things Will Not Stay Brecht on Theatre: Development of an Aesthetic

"Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are." ~ Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht

Political playwright Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht (18981956) was born on this day in Augsburg, Germany and had a comfortable middle-class upbringing. A student of philosophy and medicine, he served in an army hospital during World War I and learned to detest war.

"War is like love; it always finds a way," the dramatist observed.

A lover of language and poetry, his first play, Bael, was published in 1919. A prolific writer who initially experimented with dada and expressionism, his stand out creations included the epic dramas Mother Courage and her Children (1941), Life of Galileo (1947), and The Caucasian Chalk-Circle (1948).

"Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes," he said.

Brecht created his own lexicon and style, challenging the established norm. His revolutionary acting and staging technique, verfremdungseffekt, the "estrangement effect," was designed to help audiences remain detached from his characters.

"Mixing one's wines may be a mistake," he said, "but old and new wisdom mix admirably."

Because of his leftist political beliefs and opposition to the regime of Adolf Hitler, Brecht and his family were forced to flee Germany in 1933 and spent 14 years in exile. He was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize in 1954.

He once advised: "Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life."

Life is fluid. Go with the flow.