The Writings of Bertolt Brecht


FEBRUARY 10th, 17th, 24th + MARCH 3rd, 10th, 2014. This class is an introduction to the writings of Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). Over the duration of five weeks, we will look at Brecht’s theoretical writings, two of his plays, and handfuls of poems that point to dramaturgical themes he so often emphasized, such as the Verfremdungseffekt (estrangement effect), his theory of Gestus, and the practice of ‘non-Aristotilian drama’. Class will take place on Monday’s in February (10th, 17th, & 24th) and in March (3rd & 10th) from 6:30p to 8:30p at Café 1923, 2287 Holbrook St, Hamtramck, MI 48212.

Week 1Epic Theater using Verfremdungseffekt, Here’s a strange, sporadic yet useful collection of “miscellaneous WWW sources” on Epic Theater, Verfremdungseffekt, Brecht, and Artaud. This is obviously not Brecht, but a useful primer.

We’ll also be looking at three essays by Brecht from around 1936: Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting + The Street Scene + Short Description of a New Technique of Acting which Produces an Alienation Effect

Week 2:  The Baden-Baden Lesson on ConsentThis Lehrstück, written in 1929, contains a memorable scene in which a clown is dismembered by his clown friends, as seen in the images here, courtesy of

Week 3: Mother Courage and Her Children Scenes 1 through 6. Written 10 years later, in 1939. Mother Courage is one of Brecht’s most celebrated plays, and a strong display of Verfremdungseffect throughout.

Week 4: Mother Courage and Her Children Scenes 7 though 12.

Week 5: Selections from Die Hauspostille (Manual of Piety) (1927), link to view forthcoming. We will take a look a handfuls of Brecht’s poetry from Die Hauspostille and potentially find unexpected things.