Sam and Mark's Super Happy Wedding Funtime

My Brechtian Wedding

Posted on: January 17, 2012

Bertolt Brecht has always kinda fascinated me in a very “I don’t actually know anything about Brecht” way.  While he didn’t exactly invent the Epic Theatre movement, he unified a lot of the concepts within it and defined it in a very scholarly manner.  While Stanislavski was going for realism and honesty to reach people on an emotional level, Brecht wanted people to think.  He purposefully jarred them out of the world on stage and reminded them they were watching a show- a production. He used songs at strange moments, weird lighting effects or no lighting at all, and combined abstract and realistic design elements to highlight the bits he wanted you to pay attention to.

Brecht wasn’t interested in the investment of emotions by the audience.  The point of the play was the point of the play.  He didn’t need you to feel, he needed you to think.

I don’t think Brecht could really ever separate emotion from the action.   His tricks of lighting, songs, selective realism- this had to happen because we naturally want to invest in the action.  We are (most of us, anyway) hard-wired for empathy. Even the strictest Brecht productions have moments of pure pathos- try as he might to prevent or control this.  Plus, processing the points of these plays on an intellectual level results in emotion.  We can logicially understand the horrors of the world, and this typically makes us feel something.  But then that is not escapism (which is what he called Stanislavski’s System) because it isn’t feeling for the people in that scenario.  It is realizing the scenario and feeling for yourself.  Which, on stage or off, is pathos.  Sorry, Brecht!

A wedding is very much like an Epic Theatre production.  There are random songs and speeches all over the place and then there’s the staging, costumes, and set design- “selective realism” is a perfect term for it.  You have people in normal party clothes, then the key characters in crazy outfits.  You have perfectly normal banquet hall, but with crazy flows to indicate the “weddingness” of the event.  The whole thing screams Epic Theatre.   It is a staged production about love and commitment, with some social commentary thrown in. The extravagance of the event against the simplicity of the meaning.  With emotional displays broken up by meat courses and camera flashes to take you out and remind you you are witnessing a play, a production, a wedding.

It screams Brecht, right?

Of course this line of thinking probably isn’t going to do me any favors.  Now I’m thinking in terms of staging and production.  Which means I am starting to think about blocking and set design.  I can do what Brecht did, take the structure of a traditional (play) wedding and flip it upside down (mindfully) to make it an (anti-play) anti-wedding.  Something that totally bucks the traditional, but still highlights the importance of the event- love, commitment, partnership.

Or we can just open some wine and eat some yummy foods and call it a day.  Maybe not staging the full blown production is the most Brechtian thing I could do.

But I’ll still wear a crazy hat and break into song.

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3 Responses to "My Brechtian Wedding"

Wine, yummy food, crazy hats and songs. Brechtian or not, it still sounds like a wedding to me.

Too bad Degan’s not around to help.

That would be something else 🙂

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