Erwin Piscator

Erwin Piscator (pĬskä´tôr), 1893–1966, German theatrical director and producer who, with Bertolt Brecht, was the foremost exponent of epic theater, a genre that emphasizes the sociopolitical context rather than the emotional content or aesthetics of the play. He worked experimentally in Berlin after 1919. As director of the Volksbühne (1924–27), and later at his own theater (on Nollendorfplatz), he produced social and political plays especially suited to his theories. His dramatic aims were utilitarian—to influence voters or clarify Communist policies. He used mechanized sets, lectures, movies, and mechanical devices that appealed to his audiences. In 1927 he produced a notable adaptation of a Czech novel (tr. The Good Soldier Schweik). Piscator went to the United States in 1939 and became director of the Dramatic Workshop and the Studio Theater, which he founded in New York City. He returned to Germany c.1958; he was appointed manager and director of the Volksbühne in West Berlin and received honors from the West German government for his contribution to the arts. His influence on European and American production methods was extensive.

See C. D. Innes, Erwin Piscator's Political Theatre (1974).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Theatre of Erwin Piscator
John Willett.
Holmes & Meier, 1979
The Director and the Stage: From Naturalism to Grotowski
Edward Braun.
Holmes & Meier, 1982
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Piscator in Berlin"
Brecht: A Collection of Critical Essays
Peter Demetz.
Prentice-Hall, 1962
Librarian’s tip: "Piscator's Political Theater" begins on p. 86
Terrorism and Modern Drama
John Orr; Dragan Klaić.
Edinburgh University Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Aspects of Terrorism in the Work of Piscator and Brecht"
The Theatre of the Weimar Republic
John Willett.
Holmes & Meier, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Erwin Piscator in multiple chapters
Theatrical Directors: A Biographical Dictionary
John W. Frick; Stephen M. Vallillo.
Greenwood, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "Erwin Friedrich Piscator" begins on p. 311
Encyclopedia of Literature and Criticism
Martin Coyle; Peter Garside; Malcolm Kelsall; John Peck.
Routledge, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "Expressionism to Piscator" begins on p. 457
German Cultural Studies: An Introduction
Rob Burns.
Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Erwin Piscator begins on p. 79
Group 47: the Reflected Intellect
Siegfried Mandel.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1973
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Documentary the Playwright as Preacher and Teacher"
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