Monday, 30 October 2017

Innes on Brecht

Brecht's approach, if not the details of his theory, has been perhaps the most significant single influence on world drama since the 1960s.

Christopher Innes, Modern German Drama (CUP, 1994)

While ostensibly describing the influence of Brecht on subsequent German theatre-makers, Christopher Innes manages to explain how easily the theories of Brecht have been manipulated into far less interesting productions. Harmurt Lange, for exaample, took the Greek myth Murder of Ajax and overloaded it with a series of metaphors, until the story itself collapsed beneath clumsy comparisons with Soviet history. Allegory becomes a 'straightjacket' and influence becomes plagiarism when Helmut Baierl decided to take a passage from Brecht's The Exception and Rule, change a few words and shove it into the introduction to his The Finding.

In these cases, Innes continues, it's not the approach that matters so much as the Marxism. Baierl lacks the ironic sensibility that made Brecht's scripts so much more than propagande or agit-prop: he wants to believe that he can prove Marxism's righteousness on the stage. And, according to Innes, it ends up being all a bit Soviet Kitsch.

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