Following Stanislavski, it seemed only right to discuss epic theatre. Stanislavski was the father of method acting and epic theatre originated from the same tree. However, it was created by Bertolt Brecht, and it took a different approach to theatre. It too revolutionized theatre and became a turning point of the 1920’s.
Unlike Stanislavski’s method acting, epic theatre rejected the Aristotelian way of performing dramatic pieces. In turn, it favored detached narratives, and “loosely related loosely related episodes interspersed with songs and commentary by a chorus or narrator (Answers.)” This style can loosely be defined as straying away from the idea that an audience should identify with well-rounded characters, and focus more on alienating the audience so they can critically evaluate the characters. Brecht did this by adding unique and foreign set pieces, and setting in plays in remote times or desolate locations. This style is best seen in the show Three Penny Opera and The Good Woman of Setzuan. However these shows didn’t premiere until years after epic theatre was introduced.
All of this is in contrast to the naturalistic approach pioneered by Konstantin Stanislavski. Both men saw flaws in the current theatrical approaches. However where Stanislavski tried to render the performances with real human comportment in acting, Brecht decided to aimed to take audiences elsewhere. He wanted to affect audiences “viscerally, psychologically, physically, and irrationally (Wikipedia.)” Modern audiences have referred to a technique created by Brecht that is called, “Verfremdungseffekt” also known as “the making strange affect.” It is designed to make an audience feel detached from the play. I personally think it sounds scary. The most popular plays today all feature plots that people can relate too, or at least that’s how it seems. It is interesting to see the problems these gentlemen saw in the past, and the unique and very different ways they went about combating a solution.
“The Ballod of the pimp” sang at the Tonys
Starring Cyndi Lauper and Alan Cumming
You can see how the performance would be slightly darker than other shows pre-epic theatre age.