55 Facts About Bertolt Brecht


Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht, known professionally as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet.


Eugen Berthold Friedrich Bertolt Brecht was born on 10 February 1898 in Augsburg, Germany, the son of Berthold Friedrich Bertolt Brecht and his wife Sophie, nee Brezing.


Bertolt Brecht's mother was a devout Protestant and his father a Roman Catholic.


Bertolt Brecht's father worked for a paper mill, becoming its managing director in 1914.


Bertolt Brecht was nearly expelled from school in 1915 for writing an essay in response to the line Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori from the Roman poet Horace, calling it Zweckpropaganda and arguing that only an empty-headed person could be persuaded to die for their country.


Bertolt Brecht's expulsion was only prevented by the intervention of Romuald Sauer, a priest who served as a substitute teacher at Brecht's school.


On his father's recommendation, Bertolt Brecht sought to avoid being conscripted into the army by exploiting a loophole which allowed for medical students to be deferred.


Bertolt Brecht subsequently registered for a medical course at Munich University, where he enrolled in 1917.


Bertolt Brecht was drafted into military service in the autumn of 1918, only to be posted back to Augsburg as a medical orderly in a military VD clinic; the war ended a month later.


Some time in either 1920 or 1921, Bertolt Brecht took a small part in the political cabaret of the Munich comedian Karl Valentin.


Bertolt Brecht compared Valentin to Charlie Chaplin, for his "virtually complete rejection of mimicry and cheap psychology".


Bertolt Brecht did short sketches in which he played refractory employees, orchestral musicians or photographers, who hated their employers and made them look ridiculous.


Between November 1921 and April 1922 Bertolt Brecht made acquaintance with many influential people in the Berlin cultural scene.


Bertolt Brecht is a dramatist because his language is felt physically and in the round.


In 1923, Bertolt Brecht wrote a scenario for what was to become a short slapstick film, Mysteries of a Barbershop, directed by Erich Engel and starring Karl Valentin.


In 1924 Bertolt Brecht worked with the novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger on an adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II that proved to be a milestone in Bertolt Brecht's early theatrical and dramaturgical development.


Bertolt Brecht had become involved with both Elisabeth Hauptmann and Helene Weigel.


Bertolt Brecht and Weigel's son, Stefan, was born in October 1924.


Bertolt Brecht continued to work with him after the publisher's commission ran out.


Together the "collective" would go to fights, not only absorbing their terminology and ethos but drawing those conclusions for the theatre as a whole which Bertolt Brecht set down in his theoretical essay "Emphasis on Sport" and tried to realise by means of the harsh lighting, the boxing-ring stage and other anti-illusionistic devices that henceforward appeared in his own productions.


In 1925, Bertolt Brecht saw two films that had a significant influence on him: Chaplin's The Gold Rush and Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin.


Bertolt Brecht had compared Valentin to Chaplin, and the two of them provided models for Galy Gay in Man Equals Man.


In 1927 Bertolt Brecht became part of the "dramaturgical collective" of Erwin Piscator's first company, which was designed to tackle the problem of finding new plays for its "epic, political, confrontational, documentary theatre".


The model for their mutual articulation lay in Bertolt Brecht's newly formulated principle of the "separation of the elements", which he first outlined in "The Modern Theatre Is the Epic Theatre".


The principle, a variety of montage, proposed by-passing the "great struggle for supremacy between words, music and production" as Bertolt Brecht put it, by showing each as self-contained, independent works of art that adopt attitudes towards one another.


In 1930 Bertolt Brecht married Weigel; their daughter Barbara Bertolt Brecht was born soon after the wedding.


Bertolt Brecht became an actress and would later share the copyrights of Brecht's work with her siblings.


Bertolt Brecht formed a writing collective which became prolific and very influential.


Elisabeth Hauptmann, Margarete Steffin, Emil Burri, Ruth Berlau and others worked with Bertolt Brecht and produced the multiple teaching plays, which attempted to create a new dramaturgy for participants rather than passive audiences.


Bertolt Brecht spent the last years of the Weimar-era in Berlin working with his "collective" on the Lehrstucke.


Bertolt Brecht expressed his opposition to the National Socialist and Fascist movements in his most famous plays: Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Good Person of Szechwan, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, and many others.


Bertolt Brecht later explained that he had followed the advice of attorneys and had not wanted to delay a planned trip to Europe.


On 30 October 1947 Bertolt Brecht testified that he had never been a member of the Communist Party.


Bertolt Brecht made wry jokes throughout the proceedings, punctuating his inability to speak English well with continuous references to the translators present, who transformed his German statements into English ones unintelligible to himself.


Bertolt Brecht lived in Zurich in Switzerland for a year.


In February 1948 in Chur, Bertolt Brecht staged an adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone, based on a translation by Holderlin.


Bertolt Brecht retained his Austrian nationality and overseas bank accounts from which he received valuable hard currency remittances.


Bertolt Brecht wrote very few plays in his final years in East Berlin, none of them as famous as his previous works.


Bertolt Brecht dedicated himself to directing plays and developing the talents of the next generation of young directors and dramaturgs, such as Manfred Wekwerth, Benno Besson and Carl Weber.


At first Bertolt Brecht apparently supported the measures taken by the East German government against the uprising of 1953 in East Germany, which included the use of Soviet military force.


Bertolt Brecht died on 14 August 1956 of a heart attack at the age of 58.


Bertolt Brecht's colleagues described him as being very nervous, and sometimes shaking his head or moving his hands erratically.


Bertolt Brecht developed the combined theory and practice of his "Epic theatre" by synthesizing and extending the experiments of Erwin Piscator and Vsevolod Meyerhold to explore the theatre as a forum for political ideas and the creation of a critical aesthetics of dialectical materialism.


Bertolt Brecht thought that the experience of a climactic catharsis of emotion left an audience complacent.


In contrast to many other avant-garde approaches Bertolt Brecht had no desire to destroy art as an institution; rather, he hoped to "re-function" the theatre to a new social use.


Bertolt Brecht was influenced by Chinese theatre, and used its aesthetic as an argument for Verfremdungseffekt.


However, Bertolt Brecht was sure to distinguish between Epic and Chinese theatre.


Bertolt Brecht recognized that the Chinese style was not a "transportable piece of technique", and that epic theatre sought to historicize and address social and political issues.


Bertolt Brecht used his poetry to criticize European culture, including Nazis, and the German bourgeoisie.


Bertolt Brecht's poetry is marked by the effects of the First and Second World Wars.


In 1951, Bertolt Brecht issued a recantation of his apparent suppression of poetry in his plays with a note titled On Poetry and Virtuosity.


Bertolt Brecht's plays were a focus of the Schauspiel Frankfurt when Harry Buckwitz was general manager, including the world premiere of Die Gesichte der Simone Machard in 1957.


Bertolt Brecht began writing poetry as a young boy, and his first poems were published in 1914.


Bertolt Brecht's poetry was influenced by folk-ballads, French chansons, and the poetry of Rimbaud and Villon.


The last collection of new poetry by Bertolt Brecht published in his lifetime was the 1939 Svendborger Gedichte.