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A History of the Berliner Ensemble

Cambridge University Press

The Berliner Ensemble was founded by Bertolt Brecht and his wife Helene Weigel in 1949. The company soon gained international prominence, and its productions and philosophy influenced the work of theatre-makers around the world. David Barnett's book is the first study of the company in any language. Based on extensive archival research, it uncovers Brecht's working methods and those of the company's most important directors after his death. The book considers the boon and burden of Brecht's legacy and provides new insights into battles waged behind the scenes for the preservation of the Brechtian tradition. The Berliner Ensemble was also the German Democratic Republic's most prestigious cultural export, attracting attention from the highest circles of government, and from the Stasi, before it privatised itself after German reunification in 1990. Barnett pieces together a complex history that sheds light on both the company's groundbreaking productions and their turbulent times.
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Weitere Infos & Material

Introduction; 1. The Berliner Ensemble as an opportunity to establish a new type of theatre; 2. The founding and the first season of the Berliner Ensemble; 3. The Berliner Ensemble's years at the Deutsches Theater: 1949–53; 4. Brecht's last seasons at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm: 1954–56; 5. Developing the Brechtian legacy: 1956–61; 6. Making theatre politically after the Berlin Wall: 1961–65; 7. Years of crisis: 1966–71; 8. A new beginning: 1971–74; 9. A new crisis: 1974–77; 10. A safe pair of hands: 1977–81; 11. Crisis and stagnation: 1981–89; 12. Wekwerth's last stand: 1989–91; 13. From gang of five to power of one: 1992–95; 14. The last hurrahs: 1996–99; Conclusion.

Barnett, David
David Barnett is Reader in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Sussex. He is the author of Brecht in Practice: Theatre, Theory and Performance (2014), Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the German Theatre (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Literature versus Theatre: Textual Problems and Theatrical Realization in the Later Plays of Heiner Müller (1998). He has also edited the ninth volume of Brecht's collected plays in English, the Berliner Ensemble Adaptations (2014). He writes extensively on political and post-dramatic theatre in Europe and has published articles in Modern Drama and Contemporary Theatre Review on Brechtian and post-Brechtian theatre.

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