translated by Carl R. Mueller
The Measures Taken is a didactic parable showing how dedication to an idealist cause sometimes does not leave room for a response to individual suffering. Four ‘Agitators’ describe how they were forced to kill a ‘Young Comrade’ because of his susceptibility to pity and compromise.
The didactic Lehrstücke (or ‘learning-plays’) lie at the heart of Brechtian theatre. Written during 1929 and 1930, years of far-reaching political and economic upheaval in Germany and the period of Brecht’s most sharply Communist works, these short plays show an abrupt rejection of most of the trappings of conventional theatre. The Lehrstücke are spare and highly formalized pieces intended for performance by amateurs, on the principle that the moral and political lessons contained in them can be best taught by participation in the actual production. There is nothing in the drama of this century to match the precision of their language and the economy of their theatrical technique.
The Measures Taken was first produced in 1930, in Grosses Schauspielhaus, Berlin.