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Overview of Brecht's Plays & Life
1898 Bertolt Brecht is born in Ausburg, East Berlin.
1917 Brecht enrolls in Ludwig Maximillan University (Munich) to study literature and medicine.
1918 Leaves university to work as a medical orderly in military hospital; writes "Legend of the Dead Soldier" (poem) and Baal (play).
1919 Begins working as a freelance critic for Ausburger Volkswille, a small newspaper. Brecht's son (Frank) is born to Paula Banholzer, who is engaged to another man.
1922 Baal and Drums in the Night published: both plays are somewhat autobiographical.  Baal features a hedonistic and ultimately unsympathetic poet protagonist, while Drums revolves around a soldier's decision to abandon the revolution in favor of reuniting with his fiancee, who is pregnant with another man's child. 
1923 In the Jungle is performed at Munich's Residenz Theater, during which time the nascent Nazi party protests the play by hurling gas bombs into the auditorium.  Ironically, the play does not glorify class issues but rather celebrates fighting.  In this same year, Brecht first attends a Hitler event. Brecht's daughter (Hanne) is born to his first wife, Marianne Zoff. 
1924 Brecht moves to Berlin, works as Assistant Dramaturge for Deutsches Theatre, run by Max Reinhardt (influential director).  Brecht's son (Stefan) is born to Helene Weigel. 
1926 Man is Man premieres at Landetheater in Darmstadt; Baal produced at Deutsches Theatre. Begins studying Karl Marx; first mention of "epic theatre" by Brecht in magazine (Die literarische Welt).
1927 Brecht joins Erwin Piscator's collective in Berlin. Piscator's experiments with agit-prop (political) theatre and the use of mass media radically influence Brecht's aesthetic.
1928 The Threepenny Opera opens at Theater am Schiffbauerdamm.  This play marks beginning of collaboration with Kurt Weill (composer), and is based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728). Big commercial success!
1930 Writes libretto for Rise and Fall  of the City of Mahoganny, another collaboration with Weill. Marries Helene Weigel; daughter Barbara born on October 18 to the newlyweds. 
1932 Tours working class districts of Berlin with his new play The Mother; performances interrupted by the police (much to audiences' delight--doing so only confirmed the play's message about oppressive censorship).
1933 Adolf Hitler appointed chancellor by President Hindenburg; Brecht & Weigel flee Berlin the morning after the Reichstag fire. 
1935 While in exile in Europe, Nazis remove Brecht's German citizenship. 
1936 Publishes "The Fourth Wall of China" in Life and Letters (London periodical): in this essay, Brecht first mentions verfremsdungseffekt.
1939 Mother Courage and Her Children completed. In this play (set during the Thirty Years' War), the capitalism of war is exposed through the story of the title character, who sells goods to soldiers but loses her children in so doing. 
1941 Brecht moves to California with Weigel, their children, and his collaborator Ruth Berlau.
1943 Life of Galileo and Good Person of Szechuan open in Zurich at Schauspielhaus. 
1944 Brecht writes The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Son born to Ruth Berlau, but dies soon after.
1947 Called to testify for the House of Un-American Activities Committee, Brecht leaves next day.
1949 The Berliner Ensemble is created; Mother Courage opens at Deutsches Theater, Berlin.
1950 Brecht and Weigel are granted Austrian citizenship.
1956 Brecht dies of heart failure at home, four days after attending his last rehearsal. 

 

 

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