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was seen (as he often still is) as characteristically ‘heavy’, boring and lacking in a sense of humour, or at least irony – in fact the kind of playwright he himself deplored in his own, rational theatre. Furthermore, he was a Marxist and thus his ideas were (and are) unlikely to be suited to the mainly bourgeois institution of British theatre and theatregoers. Since Brecht’s ideology has so often been a barrier to a full appreciation of his work in Britain, and consequently appears regularly in this book, it is worth briefly spelling out here the basis and implications of his political beliefs. Brecht’s commitment to the classic Marxist tradition of ‘dialectical materialism’ (the idea that the individual is created by socio-political and economic factors and is, therefore, able to change his circumstances and environment) provided a ‘legitimacy’ (in his view at least) for an interventionist form of theatre. Brecht’s ‘discovery’ of Marxism (in 1928/9) confirmed his already well-developed idea that theatre should have a social function. As he said, he ‘had written a whole pile of Marxist plays without knowing it’ (Völker, 1979, p. 110). His ‘epic theatre’ was based on the concept of the primary importance of production in social life and it was intended to demonstrate socialism as the constant revolutionising of the forces and relations within the processes of production. Brecht often spoke of his form of theatre as one designed to make a contribution to ‘the full unfettering of everybody’s productivity’ (Suvin, 1984, p.20). He would admit, however, that in order for epic theatre to work fully, the actors involved in the production needed to share a Marxist view of the world. Certainly many theatre critics and historians would agree that without a knowledge of Marxist philosophy and aesthetics, it is virtually impossible to grasp the full meaning of Brecht’s plays. For example, Marxist philosophy is fundamental to Brecht’s dramaturgical exploration of the relationship between the individual and society. As a playwright, he builds up a complex framework of social, political, economic, historical and personal factors, which determine the character as an individual; his phrase for this is ‘statistical causality’. This approach to characterisation enables Brecht to demonstrate through his plays a wider range of possibilities for human behaviour than is the case with more ‘naturalistic’, psychologically-based drama. Brecht’s politics have, of course, been used frequently against him – as a reason for rejecting his artistic achievements, and as a ‘stick’ with which to beat him and expose the apparent hypocrisy in his personal behaviour. His detractors often draw attention to the fact that he never actually joined the Communist Party and that, after returning to East Berlin in 1949, he obtained an Austrian passport (1950), gave exclusive publishing rights to his writing to a West German publisher, and maintained a Swiss bank account. Equally notably, Brecht even refused to sign a binding contract with his own company, the Berliner Ensemble, until 1953, when he signed a form of ‘open’ agreement. In extenuation, it might be claimed that after his years in exile, when his artistic ambitions and activities had been inevitably limited,