German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, through his clash of ideology with the opposing theories of Realism and Naturalism, developed the concepts of "alienation" and "historification" and through these, successfully made an enormous impact on the world of theatre which continues to this very day. Brecht sought a type of theatre in which the audience could concentrate on a play's themes or didactic statements rather than becoming emotionally engaged with its characters. Thus, he developed the revolutionary Epic Theatre using a series of techniques to draw the audience's attention away from the emotion and feeling of the play and direct it towards the philosophy or moral lesson in the performance. Brecht's fascination was with a social activist theatre and his belief was that the only way to achieve this social action was to eliminate all emotion from the stage.
Alienation is the more critical of the two theories. To alienate or to "make strange" what was happening on stage, is the key practice used in Brechtian pieces. He utilizes every aspect of the theatre to his advantage in an attempt to dissipate the tension and feeling of the audience. To create the dramatic distance required for his didactic pieces, the actors often utilized the use of mask and asides as well as robotic or monotonous ways of moving and speaking. Brecht believed "alienation" to be necessary for the audience's learning processes since it took away from the traditional emotional response that was apparent in Realist Theatre and encouraged more of an intellectually based response.
Historification originally began as the imagery of other periods displayed in the play to help create a better visualization of present social circumstances. The actual matter of Brecht's plays was always based upon history and, again, was used to put the present in perspective through portrayal of the past. Brecht believed that the audience could apply a more intellectually based judgment on the play if he presented it to them in a historically based form.
Brecht's plays were a revolution in the world of Realist Theatre and Brecht himself often likened his work to scientific experimentation. It was his belief that human nature was a thing to be scrutinized and as opposed to popular and Realist belief was subject to change. Brecht examined the principles of what governed human nature and came to the conclusion that the stereotypical "hero" should not have a...