The pleasure of philosophising in Bertolt Brecht's pedagogical theatre

Frimberger, Katja (2022) The pleasure of philosophising in Bertolt Brecht's pedagogical theatre. In: PESGB Annual Conference 2022, 2022-03-25 - 2022-03-27, University of Oxford, New College.

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In this paper, I will explore Bertolt Brecht’s philosophy of education with particular reference to his notion of epic theatre. I will start with Brecht’s writing on actor training - to discover his anti-Aristotelian stance regarding the pedagogical relationship between pleasure and theatrical activity. Like Aristotle, Brecht regards theatrical mimesis, and the evoking of the sensation of pleasure, as being at the heart of epic theatre’s production- and reception-related activities. But Brecht rejects Aristotle’s notion of the nature of this pleasure, and the ways it is to be brought forth through the craft of theatre. Aristotle is preoccupied with the arousal of pity and fear through an immersive dramatic plot structure. Brecht rejects the audience’s and actor’s full identification with the events and characters shown on stage, hoping to forestall the Aristotelian relief of tragic emotions. It is in this suspension of catharsis and the re-claiming of theatre’s estranged, double mimetic activity, that artists and audiences alike are to be educated into a joyful, philosophising attitude. Brecht’s philosophy of education pivots around the artistic and pedagogical acknowledgement: that theatre portrays actions of previous actions - rather than the actual events.