Brecht Vs. Stanislavski. To move away from naturalism Brecht methods differs from Stanislavski’s in many ways. In order to achieve a un-natiuralistic performance and create an audience that are critical on the play rather than be emotionally attached to the play. Some of these differences between the two practitioner’s methods that create these two opposite effects are; Events being episodic, Where the actors go and having a 4th wall. The two practitioners play about with the order of the events during the play, whether they are episodic or linear.
Brecht chose to order his events episodically, meaning that the book may not follow on from the previous scene, but jump about in time. This could be done through flashbacks, snippets of the future, or just generally a whole new story starting within a play. The beginning doesn’t have to be at the start, neither does the middle or end have to follow their respective patterns. Several stories can run in conjunction with each other in one play.
At the other end of the scale is Stanislavski’s linear approach to plays, and even though he didn’t write his own plays himself, every play associated with his method, for example Henric Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House,’ will still have a linear pathway. Starting at the beginning, then following the events through until you reach the final scene which is the end of the story. Brecht’s episodic scenes goes against naturalism, as our lives out linear, so jumping about in time creates an unnatural time line which is very different from Stanislavski.
He would have the time line follow the pattern of our everyday lives, to create a very realistic and believable play. ‘A Doll’s house’ is set it one living room and each scene that takes place in it is linear. Whereas Brecht’s play ‘A Caucasian Chalk Circle’ shows disjointed scenes that don’t flow through to one and other. A Doll’s house lures us into thinking it is very real and that that could happen to us in the audience that is happening right then on the stage. It follows the same rules as our lives do.
We can relate to Stanislavski’s plays and the ‘fourth wall’ between stage and audience meant that we would be ‘looking into reality’ as if through someone’s window, and we would also feel part of the scene not just a spectator. To us what’s onstage is happening now, and Nora is a real person who has just walked out on her husband. Brecht’s plays on the other hand followed rules of their own, not necessarily rules of life. Our lives aren’t played out of sync, they happen one even after another, yet Brecht would jumble up scenes, go on to another story or start with the end and tell the story backwards.
As this is not what happens in life, it is harder for an audience member to get drawn into the play so much that they believe it is real. Brecht took the point of making the play look like a play even further than just addressing the audience directly. He made it so the actors acted as people acting the characters. He had them multi-role, stay on stage at all times, and not necessarily drop out of character after their scene, but ‘release’ their character so they become ‘An Actor’ on the stage in front of the audience when they are not needed.
He had the actors use their bodies as props, so that the audience would not be tricked into thinking the set was an actual place, and also as a reminder about creativity and abstract drama. It was all about not having real rooms, real time or real characters. Having the actors on the stage all the time is a constant reminder to the audience that this is just a performance which is being shown for a reason. Brecht wants the audience to think about the play itself and it’s meanings, rather then ‘Oh that poor girl, what a terrible life she has had. He didn’t want the emotional link there, which is where the acting techniques came in handy. The audience would be spoken to by someone, and they would watch the scene and then they would see the actors become someone else and so that image of that poor girl, quickly goes away because there is nothing to remind you of her. It’s quite simple how Brecht works. His costumes are usually all black with loads of layers and just a few things that will differentiate each of the actor’s characters, maybe a different coloured scarf.
Brecht’s plays have a purpose, which is to educate the audience, and it normally revolved around political issues at the time. Which of course was the world war II. Brecht was being vocal in his plays because he wanted to give people the chance to decide for themselves about the current situations. His plays would tell both sides of the arguments, while stripping it of it’s biased opinions and emotional value. Leaving the raw performance to shock the audience into leaving the theatre with their own opinions. Now even though all the political values of the play makes it sound very serious and realistic they actually weren’t.
Brecht transformed the political decisions at the time into a different scenario, often mimicking the upper class status people. And having morals in the story. Where as on the other hand you have Stanislaski, who wanted to create a performance that would let the audience get lost in someone elses life on stage, and go away being amazed at the performance and not necessarily about the content of the play. So Brecht and Stanislavski have two very different approaches to theatre, with two very different goals for the performances.
Their methods are very much developed due to the want of a different kind of theatre for their time, so they are very much period based methods. Stanislavski was wanting to get away from Melodrama, and Brecht wanting to tackle current issues but in a similar form of Melodrama. As both seemed to have influences on each other there are bound to be many differences between the two practitioners, Brecht ending up with a variety of techniques to get a un-realistic, fun to watch while being educated, and seeing mockery of the upper class method of theatre.
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