Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 2 (Jan-Mar 1983) p. 23.


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Brecht and Didactic Theatre

Rekha Kamath

BN THE last decade Brecht has gained increasing importance in the Indian theatre scene. His major plays have been translated or adapted in various regional languages, and it is no longer surprising to read of Brecht performances in New Delhi, Calcutta, Pune or elsewhere. The theory of the epic theatre is read and studied assiduously by directors and actors alike, and in some cases one can even speak of Brecht's influence on some directors.

Brecht's popularity is not surprising, when viewed in the sociopolitical context of the country. The sharpening contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the workers in the cities, and between feudal landlords and landless labourers in the countryside, emphasize the necessity of a politically oriented theatre. If art and theatre too reflect the movements of the times, then they can also contribute towards a better understanding of the manner in which the socio-political nexus functions. Problems need to be identified, so that solutions can be arrived at. By attempting to raise the awareness of the masses, all forms of progressive political art contribute - however indirectly - to the possibility of social transformation.

Brecht's major contribution to theatre aesthetics lies in his attempt to free theatre from its bourgeois limitations of a 'mere form of entertainment'. The epic and the didactic theatre are two different models through which Brecht tried to relate his political understanding with aesthetic activity, in order to give the theatre a definite social and political function. Brecht recognized the fact that if theatre was to become a relevant part of social activity, it would not only have to entertain the masses, but also educate them. The didactic element is therefore an integral part of both the theatre models that Brecht worked with. The reason why in this article emphasis is laid on the model of the didactic theatre is simple. In talks with actors and directors of the Hindi theatre

Journal of Arts and Ideas


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