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Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was a German poet, playwright and theatre director. This project will look at the development of Brecht’s playwriting over time in response to the socio-political changes in Berlin, by evaluating Brecht’s work in the three periods of different political environments that Brecht was exposed to in Berlin. These should reveal how historical context and political stance shaped his work. Some reference will be made to the plays mentioned, due to their content and the different times in which they were written. Academic and contemporary responses mentioned in this project were mostly acquired at the Brecht Haus archive in Berlin on 14th February 2008. During the First World War, Brecht doubted in a school essay whether it was honourable to die for your nation and this feeling was heightened when he had to serve in the war as a medical orderly in 1918 (Rosenhaft, 1994). His first plays were written as the war ended; the working title of one of his first was Spartakus (later published as Drums of the Night), after the organisation of the German revolutionaries Luxemburg and Liebknecht. Brecht’s radical side is clear in his early plays; he talks about the decay and corruption of the bourgeois society that he felt a part of (Meech, 1994). Yet arguably at this point in time, Brecht was “a bohemian rather than a Marxist” (Schoeps, 1992). The polarisation of the Weimar Republic and the rise of fascism that resulted in stronger political beliefs and works in the late 1920s (Fetscher, 1980). Saint Joan of the Stockyards, an allegory on the workings of the stock exchange, is an example of this (McCullough, 1994). The Weimar Republic saw the increasing commercialisation of leisure activity with the rise of popular entertainment (cinema, sports, dance, jazz, etc) (Rosenhaft, 1994). The educated, bourgeois audience was being replaced by a broader audience. This cultural democratisation affected the role of the writer (Silberman, 1993). Some traditionalists sought new ways of asserting their elitism whilst others like Brecht began to develop a habit of production that submerged the author’s subjectivity within a collective (Meech, 1994) as seen with the adaptations of Marlowe’s Life of Edward the Second (1924) and Man Equals Man (1926). The notion of aesthetic activity as production rather than creation, theorised by Brecht in his essay The Threepenny Lawsuit (1932) indicates this shift. Social changes have therefore directly impacted Brecht’s style of writing and theoretical concepts of theatre. Brecht was taught Marxism in the late 1920s twenties by Korsch and Benjamin, both anti-Stalinists (Esslin, 1959). Brecht supported the KPD, a mass party that to him seemed the only force capable of confronting Hitler, unlike the main Trotskyist organisation in Berlin with only 50 members (Windisch & Brandon, 2006). He would not have had much opportunity to influence events otherwise. Brecht’s turn to Marxism changed his approach to theatre. He rejected the naturalistic style that presented the audience with a perfect illusion of reality. For productions of Drums of the Night, he suggested hanging a banner above the stage saying “Don’t Stare So Romantically!” Ironically,

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