Epic Theatre

Definition

Theater

  • A form of political drama intended to appeal to reason ratherthan the emotions. Epic Theatre replaced the unities withan episodic structure; an important feature was the alienationeffect, in which actors and audiences were discouraged from identifyingwith the characters or scenes depicted. The name and theory were derivedfrom Aristotle and pioneered in Germany in the late 1920s by BertoltBrecht and his associate Erwin Piscator (1893 - 1966).Both were avowed communists who sought an ideal theater with socialand political relevance that would stimulate playgoers into both thoughtand action; Theatre of Commitment, Theatre of Social Action,and Theatre of Social Conviction were alternative names forthe genre. Brecht's Man is Man (1926) is usually consideredthe first Epic Theatre play; Piscator's offerings included a dramatizationof Tolstoy's War and Peace. The tradition was continued bymany of the left-wing playwrights of the 1960s and 1970s.
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