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Brecht on Performance


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Brecht on Performance: Messingkauf and Modelbooks presents a selection of Brecht's principal writings for directors and theatre practitioners, including an entirely new commentated edition of Brecht's dialogues and essays about the practice of theatre, known as the Messingkauf, or Buying Brass, as well as rehearsal and production records from Brecht's work on productions of Life of Galileo, Antigone, Mother Courage and others.

About the Author

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) is acknowledged as one of the great dramatists whose plays, work with the Berliner Ensemble and writing have had a considerable influence on the theatre. His landmark plays include The Threepenny Opera and, while exiled from Germany and living in the USA, such masterpieces as The Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and The Caucasian Chalk Circle.


Brecht on Performance is a companion volume and has two parts. The first is an overhaul of what Willett previously called the Messingkauf Dialogues. 'Buying Brass' - the more literal translation of Messingkauf - assembles more of the fragmentary material and includes Brecht's 'Practice Pieces for Actors', revealing that the 'dialogues' were only one, albeit major, element in the overall project. The editing of the fragments is exemplary ... The second part includes writings and images from three of Brecht's 'modelbooks', as well as essays from the Berliner Ensemble's documentation Theatre Work and the 'Katzgraben' Notes. Taken together, the extracts presented here form a rich collection that includes significant work from when Brecht returned to theatre-making in 1948. These two volumes represent an excellent extension of Brecht's writings in English. The editors draw on contemporary scholarship, apply high editorial standards, and offer a readability that opens up Brecht's theories and practices for a new generation. -- David Barnett * New Theatre Quarterly *
An excellent complement to Brecht in Practice. ... These theoretical essays concern the practice of theatre (known as Messingkauf, or "buying brass") and explore the way actors should interpret and perform a text. -- Nathaniel Nesmith * American Theatre *
Combined with Brecht in Practice, [Brecht on Performance] makes a compelling contribution to the anglophone understanding of Brecht and may indeed breathe new life into how we do theatre in the twenty-first century. -- Michael Wood, University of Edinburgh, UK * Modern Language Review *
Brecht in Performance is the ideal and long-awaited companion to the much loved, but now greatly improved Brecht on Theatre. Essential reading for students, theatre practitioners and anyone interested in this hugely important figure. -- Stephen Unwin
This is a book at least as essential as Brecht on Theatre, not least because it restores to print a carefully reconstructed version of Brecht's major theoretical work The Messingkauf Dialogues (first released in English by Willett in 1965), with many variant texts absent from the first publication of that treatise. ... It is unnecessary to qualify my praise for the other major element of Brecht on Performance, and that is a fresh, lushly illustrated translation of three of Brecht's modelbooks, created for the Berliner Ensemble during the brief period that Brecht was at its helm. * Brecht on Performance *
Brecht on Performance is a vital aid to English speakers in understanding Brecht as a theatre practitioner as well as what constitutes Brechtian performance. For the first time, a full edition of the unfinished Messingkauf - translated as Buying Brass - is available in English. [This book] will allow Anglophone scholars and performance practitioners to revisit Brecht's influence as a writer, theoretician, and theatre maker specifically, but also - more generally - the relationship between political thought and aesthetics, and between the theory and the practice of making art. * TDR: The Drama Review *

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