…Brecht began to contrive an elaborate complex of stage techniques to produce the celebrated alienation effect, which was designed to stir audiences without exhausting them. He employed many varieties of the play within a play convention to keep the narration detached and avoid “involving” the audience emotionally. He experimented with choruses. He prefaced many scenes with placards or lantern slides that gave away the plotting of the scene to come before suspense could draw people into it. Wherever he could, Brecht exposed the naked wiring, the footlights, the stage flats, the treadmills, or the turntables he was using: this was a stage, he insisted, not life, and you had better be aware of that all the time. DId it work?
In his theoretical attack upon romanticism and emotion Brecht claims to be the advocate of reason. Yet in his writing of plays, Brecht time and again creates scenes that move the audience, in spite of the distancing devices. Because he seems genuinely to believe that his work is free of strong emotion, Brecht makes no effort to suppress or conceal this element. And because our sympathy is continually rebuffed, when emotion manages to take hold of the audience, it may be all the stronger for that. Read More:http://www.teachit.co.uk/armoore/drama/brecht.htma
Brecht was a master of emphasis. Like Chaplin, whom he admired extravagantly, Brecht could begin with an inherently dramatic situation and so exaggerate the responses of his characters that the whole passage gradually becomes ridiculous. During a crisis of pathos or of tenderness he was likely to bring on a pair of lunatic, ditty singing musicians, or allow his mistreated peasant maid of a heroine, with a broad wink at the audience, to make a thoroughly lewd remark about the hero in a sotto-voce aside. The situation must not settle; thus the brain, not the emotion is engaged. At least in theory.
The most influential technique for achieving the V-effect ( alientation) was the style of acting on which Brecht insisted. He militantly rejected the precepts of Stanislavsky, which required that the actor understand and imitate the character being portrayed so that for all dramatic purposes he will “be” the character. The only justification for the actor’s effort to “feel his way into the character” , according to Brecht, was so that he could ultimately come out “the other side” and observe the character from the standpoint of a seasoned social critic who could add his own explicit criticism to his version of the character.
In practice this meant that the actor would portray a representative character of the proletariat as both raw and seriously sympathetic, or a bourgeois, however superficially graceful or powerful, as an ethical cipher. Caught between what they expected, and what they actually saw and felt, the cultivated German spectator found himself animated by chronic shock and unwilling recognition. This double view of the characters, this critical supernimbus, would form a true and objective image on the psychological retina of the spectator.
Brecht:The spectator was no longer in any way allowed to submit to an experience uncritically (and without practical consequences) by means of simple empathy with the characters in a play. The production took the subject matter and the incidents shown and put them through a process of alienation: the alienation that is necessary to all understanding. When something seems ‘the most obvious thing in the world’ it means that any attempt to understand the world has been given up….
…What is ‘natural’ must have the force of what is startling. This is the only way to expose the laws of cause and effect. People’s activity must simultaneously be so and be capable of being different.
It was all a great change.
The dramatic theatre’s spectator says: Yes, I have felt like that too just like me – It’s only natural – It’ll never change – The sufferings of this man appall me, because they are inescapable – That’s great art; it all seems the most obvious thing in the world – I weep when they weep, I laugh when they laugh.
The epic theatre’s spectator says: I’d never have thought it – That’s not the way – That’s extraordinary, hardly believable – It’s got to stop The sufferings of this man appall me, because they are unnecessary That’s great art: nothing obvious in it – I laugh when they weep, I weep when they laugh.
The bourgeois theatre’s performances always aim at smoothing over contradictions, at creating false harmony, at idealization. Conditions are reported as if they could not be otherwise; characters as individuals, incapable by definition of being divided, cast in one block, manifesting themselves in the most various situations, likewise for that matter existing without any situation at all. If there is any development it is always steady, never by jerks; the developments always take place within a definite framework which cannot be broken through.
None of this is like reality, so a realistic theatre must give it up. Read More:http://showme.physics.drexel.edu/thury/A-Effect.html