Playwright. Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht’s home life was middle class, though he sometimes claimed peasant origins. At school he met Caspar Neher, who later designed many of the sets for his dramas and the visual iconography of their theatre. His wrote his first full-length play, Baal, in response to an argument in a drama seminar, and his second major play, Drums in the Night, in February 1919. In 1922 he was been awarded the Kleist Prize for his first three plays (Baal, Drums in the Night, and In the Jungle). In 1923, he wrote a scenario for a short slapstick film, Mysteries of a Barbershop, considered by some as one of the most important films in German film history. In May of that year, his In the Jungle premiered. In 1924 he adapted Christopher Marlowe's Edward II. He began to develop his Man Equals Man project, which was to become the first product of a group of collaborators. Following the production of Man Equals Man in 1926, he began studying Marxism and socialism. He wrote several plays praising the Bolshevik collectivism and red terror. He followed this with a collection of poems, Devotions for the Home, published in January 1927. That same year, he joined Erwin Piscator's company, collaborating on several productions, which influenced his ideas about staging technology and design. He formed a drama collective with a group of friends, writing about the massive worker arts organization that existed in Germany and Austria in the 1920s. The masterpiece of the collaborations, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, caused an uproar when it premiered in 1930, with Nazis in the audience protesting. He spent 1930–1933 working on the Lehrstücke, and he also worked on a script for a film about the impact of mass unemployment in Berlin during the last years of the Weimar Republic. He left Nazi Germany in February 1933, just after Hitler took power. In 1941 he wrote Mr Puntila and Man Matti. During the war years, he expressed his opposition to the National Socialist and Fascist movements through his writings. These include the film Hangmen Also Die! which was based on the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a chief architect of the Holocaust, known as "The Hangman of Prague." In the years of the Cold War and "Red Scare", he was blacklisted by movie studio bosses and interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he testified that he had never been a member of the Communist Party. In 1949 he moved to East Berlin and established his theatre company there, the Berliner Ensemble. He received the Stalin Peace Prize in 1954. He wrote very few plays in East Berlin, spending most of his time directing plays and developing the talents of the next generation of young directors and dramaturgs, and writing some of his most famous poems.
Bio by: Pete Mohney