Toward a Definition of Post-Brechtian Performance: The Example of In the Jungle of the Cities at the Berliner Ensemble, 1971


'Post-Brechtian' is a term whose meaning is suggestive but whose terms have never been carefully defined. This article considers the implications of the post-Brechtian in performance by proposing five theses that might apprehend the term's multifarious manifestations onstage. The theses proceed from conditions of epistemological uncertainty and articulate points of confluence with and divergence from Brecht's own performance practices, which he developed at the Berliner Ensemble. Ruth Berghaus's production of Brecht's In the Jungle of the Cities at the same theatre in 1971 provides an early example of the epiphenomena associated with the post-Brechtian. The article seeks to locate the impulses that lay behind the production's performance decisions in order to generalize a series of principles that can be applied to the work of other directors, such as Robert Wilson, Christoph Marthaler, and Einar Schleef.