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Training the audience: Brecht and the art of spectatorship

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-48
Number of pages20
JournalModern Language Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


This article explores Brecht’s use of onstage spectatorship in Die Mutter, Mutter Courage, and Der kaukasische Kreidekreis. Episodes in the plays showcase contrasting examples of ‘culinary’ and ‘critical’ spectatorship, providing spectators in the auditorium with negative and positive role models. They also posit a connection between acting and spectatorship, as the characters use their social observations to construct ‘dramatic’ and ‘epic’ performances. The article links these developments to the ideas that Brecht articulates in the poem ‘Rede an dänische Arbeiterschauspieler’, and it examines what we can learn from real-life reactions to the plays’ postwar stagings in East Berlin.

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