Bertolt Brecht  book cover
1st Edition

Bertolt Brecht

ISBN 9780815396895
Published February 11, 2018 by Routledge
202 Pages

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Book Description

Bertolt Brecht’s methods of collective experimentation, and his unique framing of the theatrical event as a forum for change, placed him among the most important contributors to the theory and practice of theatre. His work continues to have a significant impact on performance practitioners, critics and teachers alike. Now revised and reissued, this book combines:

  • an overview of the key periods in Brecht’s life and work
  • a clear explanation of his key theories, including the renowned ideas of Gestus and Verfremdung
  • an account of his groundbreaking 1954 production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle
  • an in-depth analysis of his practical exercises and rehearsal methods.

As a first step towards critical understanding, and as an initial exploration before going on to further, primary research, Routledge Performance Practitioners are an invaluable resource for students and scholars.

Table of Contents


    2. Which Brecht?

      On the make: from Bavaria to Berlin (1898–1924)

      Changing the world: Weimar politics (1924–33)

      On the run: exile in Europe and America (1933–47)

      Building a collective: Brecht in the GDR (1947–56)

      Brecht today?

    4. Brecht in dialogue

      Brecht’s key concerns

      Getting the gist of Gestus

      Verfremdung and V-effects

      Historicization: questioning the present through the past

      The modern theatre is the epic theatre

      Dialectics in the theatre

      Brecht’s socialist realism: imitation meets experimentation


    6. Prologue: a model

      A historicizing epic

      A Berliner Ensemble show

      Epilogue: ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’


Preparing for spectActorship

Section One: remembering exercises from the past

Section Two: a workshop for Brechtians


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Meg Mumford is a Senior Llecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia.


'This is a very useful volume which goes far beyond its ambit as a mere introduction. It offers novel, perceptive, and enlivening insights into the very practical concerns a student may have about Brecht without dismissing the theories as irrelevant appendages to the plays.' - Modern Language Review 

'What makes Meg Mumford's new text, Bertolt Brecht, a 'must have' - especially for secondary educators and theatre students - is that here, all these angles are concisely drawn together with an accessible tone and structure, and with pithy key points of analysis... This book exhibits depth as well as clarity... This is a thorough, informative read for theatre educators and students, and a great read in terms of an illustrated twentieth-century life story.' - M/C Reviews

'Mumford offers brilliant explanations of difficult Brechtian theoretical concepts' - Choice

'Meg Mumford covers ample ground with a sure footedness that has left this reviewer smiling with delight. A wish to demystify Brecht, to prise him out of the political or literary clutches of the jargonists, has motivated my teaching for more than thirty years, but I never managed it as effectively as this.' - Studies in Theatre Production

'... Brecht’s changing and contradictory writings on Gestus and Verfremdung are successfully explored within the context of her fascinating case study of the 1954 production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle ...'- New Theatre Quarterly, Tom Cantrell

'The book can be highly recommended to students new to Brecht, and also to teachers: I found the practical workshop worked brilliantly with a group of first year undergraduates in what was for many their first practical exploration of Brecht’s work.'- New Theatre Quarterly, Tom Cantrell

‘Mumford achieves a rare clarity and specificity in her discussions of Gestus and Verfremdung ...’ - The Brecht Yearbook, Julie Jackson