The Theater of Meyerhold and Brecht

The Theater of Meyerhold and Brecht

The Theater of Meyerhold and Brecht

The Theater of Meyerhold and Brecht

Synopsis

This book focuses on the relationship of Bertolt Brecht to the theater of Russian director Vsevold E. Meyerhold. Eaton's analysis places Brecht's dramatic theory and practice in proper historical perspective, thereby increasing our understanding of the role of the Russian avant-garde in shaping modern theater. She clearly demonstrates the extent to which Meyerhold's influence on Brecht has been underestimated and she argues that the preservation of Meyerholdian theater should be numbered among Brecht's significant contributions to modern drama.

Excerpt

The search for origins in the history of ideas is unending. There are always prior and parallel developments. The history of avant- garde theater can be traced to the eighteenth century and the dramatic principles of Lessing and Goethe, or it can be traced to Thespis, who is said to have separated the actor from the chorus. Though Bertolt Brecht is the theater worker most closely associated with the "epic" style of theater that emerged in Germany in the 1920s, he naturally owed much to his predecessors and contemporaries. For Brecht as for other pioneers of the avant- garde theater of the time, the most important source of ideas and inspiration was probably engendered in the work of the Russian Vsevolod E. Meyerhold. Though most famous as a director, Meyerhold's method of radically reworking texts to suit his purposes entitled him to wear the playwright's hat as well. And words were only the beginning. He had a vocabulary of movement, rhythm, and color "which speaks to the eyes in the same way that the text addresses the ears."

In 1899 Meyerhold, a twenty-five-year-old actor with the Moscow Art Theater, was distressed that Art Theater actors under Nemirovich-Danchenko were not given the opportunity to become thoroughly informed about their roles. Meyerhold thought Nemirovich-Danchenko and Stanislavsky ought to meet regularly with their actors in order to discuss and debate all aspects . . .

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