BR E C H T WA S S I X T E E N Y E A R S old and living in his parents’ home inAugsburg when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in remote Sarajevo. He was twenty when the war that was the consequence of that untidy assassination ended. The blustering, posturing adolescent of 1914 was, by 1918, an angry young man. Anger is something that must always come into the reckoning when Brecht’s theatrical career is under scrutiny. Anger at the way things are provides the impetus for political or social campaigning, and Brecht’s approach to acting cannot properly be divorced from his campaign to change the world. That campaign found its eventual rationale in Marxism, but it began with the impulse to contradict. Given the conventional Christian upbringing of a bourgeois provincial in traditionally Protestant Augsburg, Brecht responded with confrontational pragmatism:

What business have they got putting that stuff about Truth in the catechism If one’s not allowed to say what is?