This volume offers a fresh appraisal of the importance of Bertolt Brecht's theory and practice through the documentation of his influence on other dramatists and directors, the examination of how his plays have been interpreted on stage and how his theories have been modified by his followers, and through a selection of the most challenging recent critical approaches to his work. The collection is distinguished by the presence of established scholars in the field, and by a unique contribution from East Germany, including essays by Manfred Wekwerth, present director of the Berliner Ensemble, by Joachim Tenschert, its chief dramaturg and the person most closely associated with Brecht in his final years, and by Rolf Rohmer, former Artistic Director of the Deutsches Theater in East Berlin. The place of Brecht's work in the German, French and English theatre today is assessed by Klaus Volker, Brecht's biographer and general editor of his work, by Bernard Dort, and John Willett. Brecht's theatrical practice is examined by Martin Esslin and Maarten van Dijk.
Productions of Mother Courage and Hamlet, directed by Benno Besson, Brecht's most brilliant follower, are examined; Brecht's influence on contemporary film criticism is the subject of a substantial contribution by Thomas Elsaesser; and his importance for feminist film and theatre is assessed. Finally, Eric Bentley, in a provocative essay, calls the whole idea of influence into question.