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The Epic Form

5. An important difference between Brecht's epic form of theatre and the traditional dramatic form is that in the latter form the pattern of unfolding events is meant to recreate and represent realistic action as a method of telling a story. In Brecht's epic form, the story is also told, but it may be narrated or presented rather than represented. In traditional theatre the audience is meant to be drawn into the action by means of emotional identification with characters, while in epic theatre the audience is meant to be drawn into the meaning or argument of the play, observing and criticizing the characters but not identifying emotionally with them. Epic theatre focuses not on feelings but on perceptions, understanding, and learning. Realistic actors assume the identity of characters and think of a character as "I" and "me." The epic actor is meant to do no such thing; rather, the epic performance is a comment on the character, as if describing, presenting, or narrating character in third person instead of embodying it in first person.

Human personality in the dramatic form is considered known by human action, and characters meet their fate on account of their individual psychology and behavior. Thus the suspense of traditional drama is located in how things will turn out for the people involved. In epic theatre, complex issues are presented by way of settings and actions that illustrate and speak to an evil that the audience will be motivated to act against. In epic theatre, on the other hand, human beings are changeable and indeed constantly under pressure of change from their situation or society. Thus epic-theatre suspense is located in the shape that change will take.

Unlike realistic playwrights such as Ibsen or Miller, who deal with the human spirit, Brecht shows different scenes of the world and different experiences of reality. There is not just one physical world, for good or ill, of the realistic dramatists, to which ...

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The Epic Form. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:49, December 07, 2021, from