-> ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DSiD5CQ_Uk What keeps mankind alive?]]
-> The fact that millions are daily stifled,
-> tortured, punished, silenced and oppressed.
-> Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance
-> -- by keeping its humanity repressed.
-> For once, you must not try to shirk the facts:
-> mankind is kept alive by bestial acts.''

Bertolt [[note]]He was born as Eugen Berthold Friedrich, but he adopted "Bertolt", or "Bert" for short, as the one name he actually used. He thought "Berthold" sounded too soft.[[/note]] Brecht (1898 - 1956) was a [[DichterAndDenker German poet, playwright, novelist and director]]. He was possibly the most influential force in early 20th century political art, with a strong focus on communism (''not'' Stalinism) and anti-fascism -- and probably most famous for ''Theatre/TheThreepennyOpera''. He was a major figure in the art scene of the WeimarRepublic and post-war Germany. Like many German artists, he fled Germany during UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo. When he returned to communist East UsefulNotes/{{Berlin}}, he was granted his own theatre, where the current ensemble still performs his plays daily.

One of his most important principles was the ''Verfremdungseffekt'', or "effect of alienation". This was a method which discouraged immersion and escapism, and encouraged critical reception. He alienated his audience to make them more curious and attentive. The goal of each of his works was to make the audience politically engaged, by encouraging them to apply the play's lessons to their own reality. This form of PostModernism to pull audiences out of immersion is often referred to in film classes as a 'Brechtian Device'. His stories were not meant as escapist fiction, but as scathing caricatures of what was wrong in society. For this reason, he developed certain tricks to prevent escapism: he encouraged his audience to smoke while watching each play, discouraged method acting in his ensemble (he preferred using the classic, basic characters of the CommediaDellArte), used off-key instruments, and made his props out of flimsy cardboard. In short, he was a master of StylisticSuck.

Very few of his works have an explicit moral, instead relying on {{Applicability}}. His characters typically don't learn a thing, and end up perpetuating social repression and/or dying miserably. If a moral is stated at all, it's usually blatantly wrong. This way, Brecht encouraged his audience to make their own reality better than that of the characters, by learning from each story what the characters refuse to learn.

Typical features of his work include proud prostitutes, dead sailors, corrupt businessmen on the verge of bankruptcy, headstrong young women who are ''too'' headstrong to actually become independent in society, hopeful young soldiers who keep themselves blind to the real horrors of war, and what has been described as a genre of "water corpse poetry" (''[[Music/PirateJenny Wasserleichenpoesie]]'') - imagery which has been enthusiastically adapted by authors as diverse as BobDylan, [[{{Dogville}} Lars von Trier]] and Creator/AlanMoore.

Considering himself a true communist, he stated that ''all'' art should belong to the people, to be constantly rewritten and re-interpreted as the political circumstances demanded. In practice, this meant that he refused to spend time even thinking about copyright, often drawing accusations of plagiarism. The reality of it was that he considered the circumstances in which a work of art was created more important than the source, and he actively encouraged others to adapt his works into new performances, without wanting credit for it.

While not particularly noted for being a wit, he did get some moments of [[DeadpanSnarker snark]] in, most famously his criticism of the Stalinist track of EastGermany post-war: "Would it not be be simpler / If the government simply dissolved the people / And elected another?"

He collaborated often with Creator/FritzLang, KurtWeill, Walter Benjamin, PeterLorre, G. W. Pabst, and Miss LotteLenya.

Wrote a lot of plays.

'''Notable Works Include:'''
* ''{{Baal}}'' (play, 1918)
* ''Theatre/TheThreepennyOpera'' (musical, 1928)
** "Music/PirateJenny" (a song used in the musical, 1924)
** ''Literature/TheThreepennyNovel'' (novel, 1934)
* ''Happy End'' (musical, 1930)
* ''Theatre/TheRiseAndFallOfTheCityOfMahagonny'' (opera, 1930)
* ''Saint Joan of the Stockyards'' (play, 1931)
* ''Theatre/TheSevenDeadlySins'' (ballet, 1933)
* ''Life of Galileo'' (play, 1937)
* ''Fear and Misery of the Third Reich'', a.k.a. ''The Private Life of the Master Race'' (play, 1938)
* ''Theatre/MotherCourageAndHerChildren'' (play, 1939)
* ''Me-Ti: The Book Of Changes'' (book, 1939)
* ''Theatre/MrPuntilaAndHisManMatti'' (play, 1940)
* ''Theatre/TheResistibleRiseOfArturoUi'' (play, 1941)
* ''Hangmen Also Die!'' (1943, a film by Creator/FritzLang, Brecht wrote the screenplay).
* ''The Good Person of Szechwan'' (play, 1943)
* ''The Caucasian Chalk Circle'' (play, 1944)
* ''Stories Of Mr. Keuner'' (collection of short stories, first published 1948 with 39 stories, most recently published with 121 collected stories)

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!! Tropes frequently used in the work of Bertolt Brecht:

* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation: [[invoked]]It is the fate of Brecht's plays that (at least, substantial parts of) audiences often see characters in a different way than Brecht intended them. For example:
** Some think that [[Theatre/TheThreepennyOpera Mack the Knife]] is a LovableRogue. Brecht thought he was scum.
** Mother Courage to many is an ingenious, if unlucky character who doesn't give up in the face of adversity. To Brecht she was, though not without sympathetic qualities, ultimately a bad person.
** Some feel that [[Theatre/MrPuntilaAndHisManMatti Puntila]] is a JerkWithAHeartOfGold. To Brecht he was a JerkWithAHeartOfJerk.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Happened frequently in productions he staged, and is a standard in his own plays. Brecht disliked what he called "theatre of illusion", and accordingly took precautions to carefully shatter the illusion.
* ForegoneConclusion: Brecht wanted his audience to focus on how an outcome came about, not on what the outcome was. To achieve this, his plays give routinely and deliberately future events and outcomes away. Often there are spoken verses before the beginning of a new scene or episode that bluntly tell the audience what is going to happen. This was part of his self-imposed principle he called "epic theatre".
* StylisticSuck: Brecht wanted his plays to be enjoyed intellectually, not sensually and therefore avoided lavish costumes, scenery and decorations, and everything else that would allow the audience to indulge in sensual pleasure.

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