The craft of acting as a pedagogical model for living a flourishing life in a world of tensions and contradictions

Frimberger, Katja (2023) The craft of acting as a pedagogical model for living a flourishing life in a world of tensions and contradictions. Educational Philosophy and Theory. pp. 1-12. ISSN 0013-1857 (

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In this paper, I explore German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s conception of the art of acting, and his views on the new actor’s conduct towards their craft, as a pedagogical model for Brechts’ broader view on how we should live our lives. Drawing on his key writings – most importantly, his famous street scene essay – I will show that Brecht’s conception of the theory-practice connection in his approach to actor training/acting bears some deeper insight into Brecht’s conception of the art of living a flourishing life. The new actor is called to develop a conduct of careful observation and imitation of human action, one that is marked by the pleasure and lightness of exploring the contradictory workings of the social world. By placing the actor’s craft at the heart of his educational philosophy, Brecht invites us (the audience) into the theatre as a pedagogical space. Here, not unlike Brecht’s actors, we are summoned to hone our ability to boldly engage with a complex world of human actions and ideas. Brecht maintains that there resides an intellectual as well as sensual delight in being challenged to not simply accept theatre’s presentations as ‘truth’; instead, we are to learn to ‘weigh up’, ‘test’, and ‘improvise’ joyfully with theatre’s proposed ideas and practices—so that we may find out if they serve, or hinder, the creation of a larger flourishing life (beyond the theatre): a life in which we can move together, pleasurably.


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