The first half of this course will look at both plays and the theatrical ideas and practices of Bertolt Brecht, one of the most important dramatists and theater thinkers of the twentieth century. Brecht sought to create an anti-Aristotelian, anti-cathartic, anti-dramatic theater which took ancient Greek theater, Shakespeare, cabaret, Chinese opera, and Charlie Chaplin as its models. The second half of the course will look at how Brecht’s work has shaped some representative British theatrical institutions (the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court Theatre) and practitioners (Caryl Churchill, David Hare) from 1956 until the present.
Sample reading list:
Brecht and Weill, The Threepenny Opera
Brecht, Mother Courage and her Children, Good Person of Sezuan
Brecht, The Messingkauf Dialogues
Churchill, Vinegar Tom, A Light Shining in Buckinghamshire
William Gaskill, A Sense of Direction
David Hare, Fanshen, Plenty
One or two plays per week or 100-150 pages of theatrical history and theory.