Interruptions (epic theatre)

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The technique of interruption pervades all levels of the stage work of the German modernist theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht—the dramatic, theatrical and performative. At its most elemental, it is a formal treatment of material that imposes a "freeze", a "framing", or a change of direction of some kind; something that is in progress (an action, a gesture, a song, a tone) is halted in some way.[1]

The technique of interruption produces an effect on the dramatic level akin to the 'pair of scissors' that Brecht imagines cutting a drama into pieces, "which remain fully capable of life";[2] the metaphor of the cut is a pertinent one, as the technique bears striking similarities to the principles of montage being developed in the Soviet Union contemporaneously with Brecht's "epic theatre" (by the film-makers Eisenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin, and Kuleshov).[3]


  1. ^ Leach (1994, 130–135) and Benjamin (1983, 3–5, 11–13, 18–19, 21, 23–25).
  2. ^ "The epic writer Döblin provided an excellent criterion when he said that with an epic work, as opposed to a dramatic, one can as it were take a pair of scissors and cut it into individual pieces, which remain fully capable of life" (Brecht 1964, 70).
  3. ^ Leach (1994, 131).

Works cited[edit]

  • Benjamin, Walter. 1983. Understanding Brecht. Trans. Anna Bostock. London and New York: Verso. ISBN 0-902308-99-8.
  • Brecht, Bertolt. 1964. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. Ed. and trans. John Willett. British edition. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-38800-X. USA edition. New York: Hill and Wang. ISBN 0-8090-3100-0.
  • Leach, Robert. 1994. "Mother Courage and Her Children". In Thomson and Sacks (1994, 128–138).
  • Thomson, Peter and Glendyr Sacks, eds. 1994. The Cambridge Companion to Brecht. Cambridge Companions to Literature Ser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41446-6.