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Theatre Styles Resources 


Theatre Styles: Epic Theatre


Epic Theatre is a facinating and ground breaking style of theatre arising in the early to mid-20th century from the theories and practice of a number of theatre practitioners, including Erwin Piscator, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold and, most famously, Bertolt Brecht.  Brecht worked as a medic during World War One. His experiences during this war inspired him to use theatre as an instrument for social change. To understand this, it helps to understand the human cost of the first World War. Have a look at these statistics...

Casualties in WW1

Germany  1,800,000
Soviet Union  1,700,000
France  1,385,000
Austria  1,200,000
Great Britain  947,000
Japan  800,000
Romania  750,000
Serbia  708,000
Italy  460,000
Turkey  325,000
Belgium  267,000
Greece  230,000
USA  137,000
Portugal  100,000
Canada  69,000
Bulgaria  88,000
Montenegro  50,000
TOTAL  11,016,000

Over 11 million people killed or wounded. At the end of the war, women in France found it difficult to find husbands. The reason? So many men had died. Here is some actual footage from the War...











Brecht wanted for his audiences to think about the social issues that his plays portrayed. Theatre during his time was mostly escapist fare, which took people away from reality...however what Brecht wanted was for his audience to THINK! His use of partial sets, unusual use of expressive skills, non chronological scenes and the invention of Alienation made epic theatre a completely new style of theatre. The following clips from a BBC documentary "Brecht on Stage" explain some of the early plays and techniques used by Brecht and his collaborator Piscator. 

Answer These Questions! 


Watch the following videos and take notes. Download the Modern Theatre Powerpoint from Moodle. Here are some questions that you should know the answers to before your next test!!!!

  • What is epic the theatre?

  • Who was Brecht?

  • When was Epic theatre originated?

  • What were his most important theatrical works and when did they happen?

  • List the way stagecraft elements can be used in Epic Theatre.

  • What are the acting conventions that can be used in Epic Theatre?

  • What are the 12 stagecraft elements?

  • What is the theory of "Alienation"?


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