A Conversation for Bertolt Brecht - Playwright
Ben The Hippy Started conversation Sep 10, 1999
Alienation is the wrong word. It's the verfremmedungseffekt(hope I spelt that right!) this doesn't translate as alienation but distanciation, eg a critical distance is opened up between performer and spectator, rather than the essentially passive empathic actor/spectator relationship in the prevalent naturalist forms that Brecht was kicking against.
This is a frequent error when dealing with BB, a common misinterpretation. I can recommend some books if you want.
Lochangel Posted Sep 10, 1999
While I agree with you, Ben the H - actually it really doesn't matter because they mean the same thing in modern parlance. We could argue about the bastardisation of words all night but I think that Smiley Ben was aiming this at a wider audience and as such the most accessible term is alienation - it allows people to relate to what is a tricky concept. The fact is that Stanislavski and 19th century theatre styles are still the norm in a lot of places. It is what most people think of when they think about theatre. Most iconic film actors of the late 20th C use the method - even if Stan does turn in his grave over it!
Alienation? No! Well maybe.
Ben The Hippy Posted Sep 10, 1999
Fair enough, but I'm into people taking the trouble to get their heads around things! Looking at my definition I find that it isn't quite right either... I think what we're talking about here is defamiliarisation, 'making strange', therefore new, present and hyper-real. Brecht slots right in there with Stanislavski as a founder of modern styles, but 'alienation' isn't the link- 'making strange' is the trick so much modern cinema pulls, and modern theatre as well. Alienation is that jaded brain-cloud feeling you get when you have to shut out a movie/play/whatever cos you know it's not real, it's just nasty (John Woo does that for me, so does Romero...) not the open-eyed newness of seeing a familiar situation laid open with all its wires and whys exposed.
We need more theatre stuff in the Guide, don't we?
By the way, Smiley Ben, thank you very much indeed for the translations of Brecht's poetry. You're quite right, they work just as well in English, and this is a very neglected side of Brecht's work.
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