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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Homeric epic and Brecht’s epic theatre Rosen, Charlotte

Abstract

Brecht's use of the term "Epic Theatre" invites a literal interpretation, which In turn entails an exploration of the particular elements in his dramatic and theatrical work which may correspond to comparable elements in epic. The criteria for this investigation are derived from Homeric epic and from Aristotle's epic and dramatic models as discussed in his Poetics and other works. Homeric epic and Brecht's Epic Theatre are considered with respect to elements of both structure and performance. The introduction explains the reasons for approaching the forms from these two perspectives. The opening chapters look at the operation of particular structural and performance elements in Homeric epic. The epic performance occasion and story material are both characterized by explicitly social references. They also encourage on the part of the listener a greater degree of consciousness of performance skills than does traditional drama. The following chapters examine Brecht's work in the light of the Homeric criteria previously developed. We find in Brecht's work a comparable emphasis on performance skills and an analogous influence of the social nature of the performance occasion on both dramatic and theatrical structure. The conclusion reviews the particular correspondences between the two forms and suggests that a more particular understanding of the specifically epic elements in Brecht's Epic Theatre may have applications In literary and genre theory, as well as in productions of the plays.

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