A DIALOGUE ABOUT ACTING Bertolt Brecht (translated by John Billett) Bertolt Brecht (1898—1956) was a German playwright, director, and performance thoorist, His major works include The Threepenny Opera (1928), Mother Courage and Her Children (1941), and The Caucasian Chalk Citole (1948). Many of Bronchitis theoretical writings wore translated into English by John Willett in the collection Brecht on Theatre (1964). One example from that volume, “A dialogue about acting” (1929), is excerpted hero. Brocht was dissatisfied with conventional western acting, in which the performers attempted to recreate their character- emotions and convey them to the audience. Rather than disappear into the role, Brecht suggested, the actor should present the entirety of the character by engaging the role critic- arty, letting the audience see that the actor and the character are not ono and the same. Brecht called this Verfremdungseffekt—a theatrical technique that makes the familiar appear strange and/or the strange appear familiar The word has also been translated as “alienation” or “estrangement” effect.
The actors always score great successes in your plays. Are you yourself satisfied with them? No. Because they act badly? No. Because they act wrong. How ought they to act then? For an audience of the scientific age. what does that mean? Demonstrating their knowledge.
Knowledge of what? Ofhuman relations, of human behavior, of human capacities. All right; that’s what they need to know. But how are they to demonstrate it? Consciously, suggestively, descriptively How do they do it at present? By means of hypnosis.
They go into a trance and take the audience with them. Suppose they have to act a leave-taking. They put themselves in a leave-taking mood.
They want to the mood in the audience. If the séance is successful it ends up with nobody seeing anything further, nobody learning any lessons. at best everyone recollecting. In short, everybody feels. 253