Tell Me Your Story: Reinterpreting Bertolt Brecht's Epic Theater for Current Theatrical Representations of War


Hannah McDowell

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Bertolt Brecht, a twentieth century playwright and dramatic theorist, reinterpreted modern drama so as to encourage his audiences to view plays from an analytical perspective. Using techniques to prevent his audiences from identifying with the characters? emotions, Brecht ultimately intended to motivate spectators to enact social or political change. During the summer of 2006, I attended a series of plays in the Los Angeles area that espoused social or political messages. Within each play, I searched for updates and reforms of Brecht?s techniques to assess the impact of his theories ? if any ? on contemporary Los Angeles drama. Trends in plays? content and form soon emerged that verified Brecht?s current relevance. In terms of content, I found that theater in Los Angeles is responding to audiences? need to address war. Many productions used direct address narration, or a form in which characters tell personal stories directly to the audience, to portray the impact of war on the people involved. Considering the continuation of violence in Iraq and Israel?s current conflicts with Lebanon and Palestine, war is both a relevant and necessary subject for theater to explore. Direct address narration accurately portrays the effects of war and therefore has the capability to motivate modern audiences to actively change war?s social and political ramifications.


Susan Gratch




Virginia Reid Moore Fellowship

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