The Use of Brechtian Devices in Howard Brenton’s Hitler Dances, Magnificence and The Romans in Britain
Aygün, Ozan Günay
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Bertolt Brecht’s theory of epic theatre was one of the most prominent movements of theatre in the twentieth century. By keeping his plays away from the cathartic effects of Aristotelian drama through certain anti-illusory devices, Brecht aimed to prevent his readers’/audiences’ emotional attachment to the play and instead led them to approach his plays critically. With such an approach, he made the theatre a place for social and political debate. Brecht’s theories have had an undeniable influence on leftist British post-war playwrights. These playwrights either fully adopted his theory in an attempt to produce full-scale epic plays or adapted it partially, incorporating it into their own style by using certain Brechtian devices in their plays. Howard Brenton is among these British political dramatists, as he employed certain Brechtian techniques predominantly in his plays to deliver his political messages and concerns to his reader/audience. This thesis aims to analyse the use of Brechtian devices in Howard Brenton’s plays by focusing on predominant epic elements in each of them, namely role-playing in Hitler Dances (1972), Brechtian characterisation and episodic structure in Magnificence (1973) and historicisation in The Romans in Britain (1980) along with other Brechtian devices such as narrator, direct audience address, play within-a-play, music, songs, stage design, props, lighting, and masks in light of the theoretical background and highlighting their significance in conveying the dramatist’s political stance.
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