Mother Courage and political pragmatism: Sovietising Brecht during the thaw

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Abstract

Bertolt Brecht endured a troubled relationship with the Soviet Union up until his death in 1956. Increasingly feted in the 1950s for choosing the East over the West, Brecht nevertheless struggled to shake off the aesthetic label of ‘formalism’. The Berliner Ensemble tour of 1957 did much to improve Brecht’s reputation in the Soviet Union. But although stylized theatre experienced a revival during the Thaw, adapting Brecht’s plays for a Russian audience was a complex process that uncovered residual tensions within the Soviet cultural sphere. This article examines the Soviet Union’s pragmatic endorsement of Brecht for political ends in the context of its ambiguous relationship with foreign cultural forms and considers how this ambiguity affected the performance of Brecht’s play Mother Courage and her Children at the Moscow Maiakovskii Theatre in 1960.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-654
JournalSlavonic and East European Review
Volume93
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015

Keywords

  • Theatre
  • Cold War
  • RUSSIA
  • USSR
  • Russian culture
  • Audiences
  • Political debate
  • Brecht
  • Khrushchev
  • Nuclear disarmament
  • Theatre criticism

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