2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Estrangement in America: Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt Found in American Performances of The Good Woman of Setzuan
Joshua D. Hobold
Dr. Dana Smith, Faculty Mentor

Bertolt Brecht, a German poet, playwright and theorist, was perhaps one of the most influential theatre practitioners of the twentieth century. His play, The Good Woman of Setzuan (1938-40), was written after he saw the Chinese actor Mei Lan-fang perform in Moscow in 1935. This paper will first discuss Brecht and his experience of watching Chinese actor Mei Lan-fang and how this experience perpetuated his theory of Verfremdungseffekt, also known as the Alienation Effect. This paper will then relate Verfremdungseffekt back to his entire concept of Epic Theatre while discussing The Good Woman of Setzuan and how it is epic in nature. This paper will conclude with the investigation of the transition of the play to America via two paramount productions including how they each display aspects of the Brechtian theory of Verfremdungseffekt.

Keywords: Bertolt Brecht, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Verfremdungseffekt, Alienation Effect, Estrangement, Mei Lan-fang, Epic Theatre, Theatre practitioner

Topic(s):Theatre

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 13-3
Location: OP Black Box Theatre
Time: 8:45

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