chapter  1
Measuring the distance
Pages 32

Of all Brecht’s ideas about theatre, his concept of the appropriate emotional distance between

performer and role and between audience and performance is probably the best known. A full

understanding of its implications, however, is not easy, and reaching it is not assisted by

Brecht’s determination to present his theatre as the opposite of ‘naturalistic’ theatre and,

therefore, of the approach of its arch-exponent, Constantin Stanislavski. This simple ‘binary

opposition’ is neither an accurate representation of Brecht’s practice nor a helpful approach

for those wishing to perform his plays in a sympathetic manner. Furthermore, this opposition

has frequently created a barrier for British actors to understanding the performance demands

of a Brecht text.