distrust of the intellectual, typical of British art circles, and other factors of British theatrical life, has led to the assumption by many that to ‘think’ about performing will inhibit the ‘feeling’ necessary to the creative act. To cap it all, of course, Brecht actually set himself against naturalism as a style or intent, and thus (or so many practitioners assumed for some time) also set himself against the development of a clear emotional line in performance – another black mark for him from a theatre that prided itself on its ability to ‘move’ an audience by a truthful display of deep sentiment. The great British actor Alec Guinness wrote in 1949 in answer to an article by Brecht on acting: I find his theories cut right across the very nature of the actor, substituting some cerebral process for the instinctive and traditional accumulation of centuries . . . I believe in the mystery and illusion of the theatre which Brecht seems to despise. And yet the part of the British theatrical tradition that is built on the performing of Shakespeare so often brings the performer very close to Brechtian notions of theatre. Brecht’s own generous accolade to the bard – that his was a truly epic form – is a strong testimony here; and as many practitioners acknowledge (and are quoted in subsequent chapters of this book), the natural inclination of British actors towards ironic story-telling, so familiar to us from Shakespeare, makes them easy converts to Brechtian practice. Until the mid-1950s, only among a small band of left-wing enthusiasts was Brecht’s work actively supported in Britain. The great boost to the development of a public for the play-wright came from the first visit to London by his company, the Berliner Ensemble, in 1956 – shortly, that is, after his death. Since the Berliner performed in German, it is not surprising that the major impact they had was on ‘theatrical style’, on the visual and physical aspects of production, rather than on thematic content. A number of British directors and designers were immediately struck by the bareness and simplicity of the company’s staging, the careful detail lavished on and produced in costumes and props, and the robust clarity and exuberance of the acting. These responses led to a small crop of British productions of Brecht plays in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but these received somewhat mixed reviews. The feeling persisted that there was something wrong with the plays themselves, acceptability of which was certainly not helped by the difficulties of translating Brecht’s specialised verbal language. The archaic words and phrases, unusual rhythms, poetic word order, and so on, proved, and continue to prove, a challenge to any translator. And the early British productions of Brecht appeared to suffer from either an over-fidelity to ‘Brechtianism’ as understood by the performers, or from a lack of understanding of the essential combination in Brecht of socio-political meaning and theatrical fun. Even critics who admired these early productions sometimes felt (and declared) that they had to overlook or ignore Brecht’s politics in order to enjoy the performance.