Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Epic theater can be defined as

"The drama of Bertolt Brecht in which the audience is, as much as possible, held off from the vicarious experience of the events on the stage by a deliberate alienation or estrangement of the emotions."1

Brecht believed that the theater audience should constantly be made aware of the fact that they were watching a play. He strongly disapproved of the Aristotelian concept of emotional catharsis, of producing the emotions of fear and pity in the viewers. He felt that the magical effects and stage illusions that catch up and hypnotize an audience into a kind of trance were "physically disgusting and downright obscene."2 He found audience identification with stage characters, especially if deliberately achieved by the author and/or director, to be equally indecent. Brecht designed his plays to appeal to reason rather than to the senses or emotions. He invited reflection through an "effect of estrangement (Verfremdungseffekt or 'V' effect)"3 rather than through audience participation.