David Barnett invites readers, students and theatre-makers to discover new ways of apprehending and making use of Brecht in this clear and accessible study of Brecht's theories and practices. The book analyses how Brecht's ideas can come alive in rehearsal and performance, and reveals just how carefully Brecht realized his vision of a politicized, interventionist theatre.
What emerges is a nuanced understanding of Brecht's concepts, his work with actors and his approaches to directing. The reader is encouraged to engage with his method which sought to 'make theatre politically', in order to appreciate the innovations he introduced into his stagecraft. Barnett provides many examples of how Brecht's ideas can be staged, and the final chapter takes a closer look at two very different plays: one written by Brecht and one by a playwright with no acknowledged connection to Brecht. Through an interrogation of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and Patrick Marber's Closer, Barnett asks how a Brechtian approach can enliven and illuminate production.
The theater of Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) has long suffered lamentable neglect in the US and the UK ... Fortunately, Barnett champions Brecht's cause with clarity and authority in this slim volume, which this reviewer predicts will soon prove indispensable to any serious Anglophone student of Brecht. ... The author draws on profound knowledge of the material, including Brecht's drama, the crucial Messingkauf fragments, and the history of the Berliner Ensemble. At the heart of the book is the chapter 'Brecht and the Actor,' which elegantly dispatches the fallacy of a Brechtian 'style' and should be required reading in any acting class. Later chapters offer excellent illustrative readings of the application of Brecht's principles to both Brechtian and non-Brechtian drama. Barnett has delivered a vital corrective to the misapprehension of Brecht's theater. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. CHOICE
Barnett has done meticulous research and presents a very engaging scholarly argument. American Theatre
Brecht in Practice leads its reader seamlessly from Brecht's theoretical concerns to the practical matters with which they are inextricably linked ... [Barnett] writes with enviable clarity and precision ... as a result, successive potentially complex discussions are rendered effortlessly digestible. Modern Language Review