Sunday, October 4, 2009

20th Century Experimental Drama #1

I just finished my first reading assignment of the quarter! My comparative literature class is all about 20th century experimental drama, and the first play we've had to read is The Good Person of Sichuan, by Bertolt Brecht. He's a German fellow, and as I'm also taking German 101 I'm feeling very German at the moment. I did not, mind you, read the play in German.

This is, of course, experimental drama, so it's rather an odd play. It actually reminds me a lot of Greek drama, in the way the dialogue sounds sort of artificial, in the occasional soliloquies to the audience which take the form of a sort of poetry, and in the presence of the gods, who just kind of get in the way and never fix anything much. There's a lot in it, and it's the sort of play that's hard to picture performed.

Reading plays is always a bit of an interesting experience, since of course they're meant to be seen and heard, not read. For some reason I have a hard time telling if it's a good play when I just read it. I can tell good writing in a novel, but I can't always recognize good dialogue and that's all a play is. It's not till I hear it that I know whether it's good or not.

What strikes me about this play is that I feel Brecht knows exactly what he's doing with it. He knows what everything means and what he's trying to convey. It is a very consciously written play. For me, as someone who never writes any fiction very consciously, this is very interesting.

So I did like the play, even if it isn't the sort of style (epic theatre) that I generally prefer. We'll see how it compares to the rest of the plays we're reading this quarter.

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