T.B.L. Webster Lecture: ‘Brecht and Greek tragedy: radicalism, traditionalism, eristics’

T.B.L. Webster Lecture: ‘Brecht and Greek tragedy: radicalism, traditionalism, eristics’
14 November 2018, 5.00pm - 7.00pm
The Court Room, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Martin Revermann, University of Toronto

Brecht always considered Greek tragedy, and the kind of drama which in his perception Greek tragedy so prominently exemplified, as deeply problematic, politically naive and artistically flawed. These radical eristics of reception, so to speak, are in stark contrast to the philhellenism which traditionally informs responses to Greek tragedy. Brecht nonetheless very much needed Greek tragedy, and Tragedy in general, as an art form to engage with polemically, and the relationship between the two can be described as both dialogical and dialectical: without Greek tragedy as a target and an anti-model to work against Brechtian drama would lack a vital means of creating its own artistic autonomy and uniqueness.

This lecture will discuss key moments of Brecht’s complex and often stimulatingly idiosyncratic engagement with Greek tragedy: his 1948-adaptation of Sophocles’ 'Antigone' (Brecht’s play, his production in Chur/Switzerland and the subsequent ‘model book’), his theoretical treatise 'Small Organon for the Theatre' as well as what I call ‘functional equivalences’ (like the use of masks, the nature of chronotopes, the use of choruses, closural techniques or the representation of divinity).


Valerie James
020 7862 8716