Monday, May 19, 2008

Commie Brecht

Amusing little article in this Sunday’s Guardian by Nick Cohen about Brecht and how most people (theatre artists and audiences alike) overlook or ignore that he was a communist playwright. Cohen suggests that people either a) “deodorise him by pretending he was really a liberal humanist” b) “have an adult argument” or c) “shrug and walk away”. I’m guessing it’s mostly the third, with a little of the first, and almost never, if ever, the second. Does it matter that he was a communist and, if many of his themes actively embrace that philosophy, are his plays even relevant anymore? We can certainly credit him with giving us ‘alienation’, but has he cursed that fate upon himself?

1 comment:

The Internationalists said...

Our current expectations for transcendence of contextual political reaction allows us to forget Brecht's entrenchment in his time's political climate; this is as unfortunate as our own alienation from our work's dialogue with bodies politic. Also, what Brecht took from communism and what we all can potentially take from its theories IS the humanist aspect (see Eric Bentley's essays on this subject regarding Brecht), something else non-communist countries and those living in capitalist democracies would very much like to ignore.