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|Title:||Lehrstück and Schaustück: The Unity of Brecht's Drama|
|Authors:||Guy, Marie Charlene|
|Keywords:||German Language and Literature;German Language and Literature|
|Abstract:||<p>Given the recent demise of "real existing socialism," socialist literature raises a number of new questions for the contemporary audience. A case in point is the dramatic theory and practice of the German writer and dramatist Bertolt Brecht (18981956). Based as it was upon the premises of Marxism, how relevant is Brecht's art after the <em>Wende</em>? This study seeks to address this question through a revised look at Brecht's Marxist plays.</p> <p>A commonly accepted tenet of Brecht research to date is that his plays demonstrate a development on the part of the playwright. Those Brechtian plays written after Brecht's first study of Marxist theory in the late 1920s can be divided into two groups: the <em>Lehrstücke</em>, or learning plays, which were brief, theatrical exercises in social behaviour, designed only for participants, rather than an audience, and the <em>Schaustücke</em>, full-scale plays to be performed onstage before an audience. Implicit in the approach of the so-called <em>Phasentheorie</em> is a tendency to consider the learning plays of lesser quality than the plays of Brecht's later work, and to emphasize differences between the two models.</p> <p>Upon closer examination, however, the most striking characteristic of Brecht's dramatic theory and practice as it develops is not the divergence, but the unity of his plays. Using Brecht's <em>Die Maβnahme</em> (1930) and <em>Das Leben des Galilei</em> (1938/39) as paradigms of the Lehrstück and Schaustück, respectively, this study first reinterprets the learning play to then contrast and compare the two plays in terms of form and content. This reevaluation of Brecht's development as a dramatist reveals that the differences between Lehrsttick and Schaustück are essentially of a formal nature, and that these differences are outweighed by the intent and the content of the plays. Since Brecht's foremost concern with the dramatic medium is communicating a social message, the greatest significance of structure to the play is that it "structures" the play's socio-political content. Consequently, not the differences, but the continuities between Brecht's learning plays and the full-scale plays are meaningful. They indicate the unity of Brecht's dramatic theory and practice: to empower people with the knowledge that they can potentially liberate themselves from repressive forces within society through understanding their social nature and working together in community.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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