Theater of Revolution and the Law of Genre – Bertolt Brecht’s The Measures Taken (Die Maßnahme)

Simons, Oliver

It has been emphasized frequently that Bertolt Brecht's political theater, Die Maßnahme in particular, has been influenced by Carl Schmitt's theory of the sovereign and the state of exception. Although it is indeed remarkable that his learning play seems to record some of the concepts that, in Schmitt, belong to the categories of political theory, this article will return to the role and discourse of the theater in Brecht. The drama of revolution is a political text through and through, but it cannot separate the political from the theater; the drama of revolution is in search of a form, a metatheater, in which the overcoming of an order is first and foremost the attempt to suspend the law of genre. Strikingly, Brecht's learning play brings to the stage all the characteristics that have, since Aristotle, marked tragedy: the pity, the error of a hero, the hero's comprehension of the error, the guilt of an innocent man, the hero's death, the sacrifice, and catharsis. Brecht reproduces the law of the genre he wishes to supersede and entangles his figures in inescapable aporias that have dominated the metadiscourse on drama in revolutionary theater from Büchner's Danton's Tod to Heiner Müller's Mauser.


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The Germanic Review

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Academic Units
Germanic Languages
Taylor and Francis
Published Here
May 4, 2015