Between East and West: Experimental spaces in Brecht’s theatre

  • Beatrice Furini University of Siena
Keywords: Brecht, Orient, Estrangement, Experiment, Mahagonny, Artificiality


In his theatre plays, Brecht depicts “real” settings, whether imaginary or literary, and they are always remote in space and time. Referring to Deleuze's analysis of the characteristics of the new realistic cinema in contrast with the old, this essay focuses on Brecht's theatrical spaces as empty or disconnected settings, i.e. as experimental rather than real spaces.

The East and the West are indistinguishable in this artificial geography, which manifests the disrupting elements of a theatre that remains based on action, while simultaneously questioning both the idea of a unity between man and the world and the concept of art as a photographic reproduction of reality.

In these artificial spaces, Brecht also experiments with his characters in an attempt to represent the different relationships between the individual and the collective: Badiou's idea of a universal subjectivity is useful in order to identify a possible evolution in Brecht's theatre, a moment of awareness in some of his characters, for example Frau Carrar and Die Mutter.

Author Biography

Beatrice Furini, University of Siena

Beatrice Furini achieved her Ph D. from the School in Comparative Literature and Translation of the literary text at the University of Siena, with a thesis on Bertolt Brecht's theatre. She has taken part in meetings and written essays on authors such as F Kafka, E Canetti, ES Özdamar, A Abate, W G Sebald, and H Spiel.

Her publications include: "La finestra e lo sguardo dell'altro (Kafka, Canetti, Beckett)" in Finestre, Quaderni di Synapsis V, 2004; "Esilio e ritorno: la figura del reduce di guerra" in Esilio, Quaderni di Synapsis VII, 2006; “Il tempo dell'esilio e del ritorno in Sebald, Spiel ed Özdamar” in COMPAR(A)ISON 1-2, 2006; "Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe e il teatro brechtiano degli anni venti e primi anni trenta" in La giovane germanistica italiana, 2007; and “The memory of the mother tongue” in ACT 20, Filologia, Memória e Esquecimento, 2010.


Badiou, Alain, Saint Paul. La fondation de l'universalisme (1997), San Paolo. La fondazione dell'universalismo, traduzione di Federico Ferrari e Antonella Moscati, Napoli, Cronopio, 1999.

Id., Le siècle (2005), Il secolo, traduzione di Vera Verdiani, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2006.

Bloch, Ernst, Erbschaft dieser Zeit (1962), Eredità del nostro tempo, traduzione di Laura Boella, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 1992.

Id., Geist der Utopie (1964), Spirito dell'utopia, traduzione di Vera Bertolino e Francesco Coppellotti, Firenze, La Nuova Italia, 1992.

Brecht, Brecht, Große kommentierte Berliner und Frankfurter Ausgabe, a cura di Werner Hecht, Jan Knopf, Werner Mittenzwei, Klaus-Detlef Müller, Berlin und Weimar, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1988.

Deleuze, Gilles, L'image-temps. Cinéma 2 (1985) Cinema 2. L'immagine-tempo, traduzione di Liliana Rampello, Milano, Ubulibri, 1989.

Jameson, Fredric, Brecht and Method (2000), Brecht e il metodo, a cura di Giuseppe Episcopo, Napoli, Cronopio, 2008.

Lindner, Burkhardt, “Für eine Revision der Lehrstückperiode”, The Other Brecht II / Der andere Brecht II, The Brecht Yearbook / Das Brecht-Jahrbuch, Madison: The International Brecht Society, 18, 1993: 43-57.

Nägele, Rainer, “Der andere Schauplatz – Zwischen Brecht und Artaud”, In die Höhe fallen: Grenzgänge zwischen Literatur und Philosophie, hrsg. von A. Lamke, M. Schierbaum, Würzburg, Königshausen & Neumann, 2000: 9-21.

How to Cite
Furini, B. (2011). Between East and West: Experimental spaces in Brecht’s theatre. Between, 1(2).