Physical- Social/Cultural: Bertolt Brecht

Lesson 6: Physical- Social/Cultural: Bertolt Brecht


Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the Verfremdungseffek (alienation) techniques by rehearsing a short scripted scene using this effect.



TH:Cr3.1.II.b. Use research and script analysis to revise physical, vocal, and physiological choices impacting the believability and relevance of a drama/ theatre work

TH:Pr5.1.II.a. Refine a range of acting skills to build a believable and sustainable drama/theatre performance.

TH: Re7.1.II.a. Demonstrate an understanding of multiple interpretations of artistic criteria and how each might be used to influence future artistic choices of a drama/theatre work.

TH:Cn11.2.II.a. Formulate creative choices for a devised or scripted drama/theatre work based on theatre research about the selected topic.


Materials: “V” Effect Slide show (not included as PP but as a document that could be copied/pasted into a PP: Lesson 6.Brecht Slide Information), 40 “V” Effect jig saw activity notes, 40 short scenes


Preparation: Print jig saw and short scene things.


Starter: Write on the board: “Where does the emotion originate from in psychological acting, psycho-physical acting, and physical acting?” (10 minutes)



We are now finishing up physical theatre and moving onto the last acting method we’ll focus on in this unit, the physical-social acting method. We are going to focusing on the practitioner Bertolt Brecht.


Instruction 1: The “V” effect (10 minutes)

Present a slide show. Then ask the students

  • In what ways do you see this differs from Stanislavski’s psychological acting?
  • Is this realistic?


Activity 1: Gestus Warm-up (10 minutes)

Step 1: Place in pairs at opposite sides of the room. Then ask them to shout nursery rhymes across the room to each other – all at the same time!  Can they really hear?  NO!  Explain that they have to rely on body / gesture to get across the rhyme itself. Watch how the movements become bigger. Then tell them that it is a matter of life and death importance that the rhyme is communicated (e.g. secret code in war). Then repeat the exercise and examine use of gesture.



  1. How does it convey the importance of the message?
  2. What did they do to help convey the meaning when words were limited? This difference is GESTUS.


Activity 2: Gestus Practice (10 minutes)

Step 1: With a partner, decide on two opposite things, for example: Romeo and Juliet / summer and winter / cat and mouse / sweet and sour / war and peace / rich and poor. Now, decide on two opposite gestures for them that somehow express how they feel about each other. They need to be opposite emotions though. For example, if I was doing Romeo and Juliet, Romeo might gesture towards Juliet in a manly commanding way. Juliet then would walk towards him more submissively, making herself small as she does so.

Step 2: Have the groups perform their gestures for another pair.



Gestus is one of the most important parts of this acting method that you need to know, however, many elements go into creating the “V” Effect.


Activity 2: Jig Saw- “V” Effect (30 minutes)

Step 1: Get into your groups for the final assessment. Have them get out their scripts and discuss:

  1. How and where could you use gestus in your script?

Practice this for 2 minutes. After two minutes explain that there are other ways to “alienate the audience” although for our purposes, gestus is the most important.

Step 2: Hand each group the V-Effect reading material. Explain that they have 10 minutes to read the material as a group. Afterwards they should discuss

  1. How could you use some of these techniques as well as gestus in your scene?

Step 3: Tell the students that they are going to present 30 seconds to 1 minute of their scene using at least 3 of the ideas they came up with from the “V” effect reading. They have 10 minutes to put it together together. They are allowed to change the script, add to it, or take away from it in any way they see fit. In short, their scene must contain gestus and 3 other theatrical devices.

  • Explain that they don’t need to worry about the tech things as much (lighting, etc.) Focus more on all the other things.


Assessment: Perform! (10 Minutes)

Step 4: Perform for the class. Give written feedback.


Assessment Scoring: Students will receive 20 participation points for the day. 5 will come from participation in the activities and the other 10 will come from participation in the discussions. They will get another 5 points for the starter.


Adaptations: Students who have difficulty speaking in the discussions can write down responses on a piece of paper. Extended time to answer verbally will be provided by the teacher. Students who may need extended time to may perform next class.