Bertolt Brecht and Epic Theater

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Bertolt Brecht was one of the great Marxist-revolutionary playwrights of the 20th Century, who used the concept of the Epic Theater to oppose the capitalist system and bourgeois ideology. He insisted on a 'straight' version of Marxism, uncontaminated by middle class idealism, pragmatism or humanism and centered on class struggle. Brecht imagined that the education system, cultural life, the theater and the arts would always be one major arena of revolutionary struggle against the dominant ideology of capitalism. Classical and dramatic types of theater merely uphold the dominant ideologies of society or resolved social conflicts in a sentimentalized and idealized way through the actions of a hero, while comedy and the theater of the absurd mocked all this without offering any hope of real change. Brecht's version of the theater, however, grounded in the historical science of Marxism, did offer a subversive and oppositional reading of capitalist ideologies, and in plays like the Life of Galileo, even denied the existence of a hero or a fictionalized solution to social problems (Herren, 2004, p. 205). Bertolt Brecht was one of the leading playwrights of the Weimar Republic, where he developed his early ideas about Epic Theater. He went into exile immediately after the Nazis came to power in 1933 and spent most of the war years in the United States. He returned to Europe in 1947 after being called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and settled in East
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