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WHY DON’T OUR FAVOURITE LOVE STORIES HAVE HAPPY ENDINGS?

The theatre-goer in conventional dramatic theatre says: Yes, I’ve felt that way, too. That’s the way I am. That’s life. That’s the way it will always be. The suffering of this or that person grips me because there is no escape for him. That’s great art — Everything is self-evident. I am made to cry with those who cry, and laugh with those who laugh. But the theater-goer in the epic theater says: I would never have thought that. You can’t do that. That’s very strange, practically unbelievable. That has to stop. The suffering of this or that person grips me because there is an escape for him. That’s great art — nothing is self-evident. I am made to laugh about those who cry, and cry about those who laugh.

BERTOLT BRECHT, On Theatre

Brecht was a German playwright and theatrical, who lived between 1898-1956. He did not think theatres represented reality in the highly popular form of realism. The aim being to show ‘a slice of life’ with real sets and real furniture, like human specimens in a tank to observe. The world we accept to be reality. Brecht thought that was daft. It was only ‘reality’ because the audience accepted it so, and in actuality it reinforced ideas about the ‘norms’ of society with its sympathetic characters and plot intrigue. And so he wrote his own plays and created epic theatre, and shunned the idea of portraying an escapist world on stage where the audience could sit back, relax and be swept away in a wonderful story, maybe with a moral maybe not, but easy viewing nonetheless. There weren’t happy endings, not a lot always happened. The characters were not designed to be likeable, and they didn’t always learn from their actions. There was no intricate set, props and costumes, and actors were showing the character whilst telling – actually telling – the audience to be critical of them. The audience saw the problems, the situations the characters were in and how they responded to them and what brought them there, and identified with their actual world. Not a convenient reality on a pretty stage to accept as their real world, but their actual society being assessed and analysed, that they too assessed and analysed whilst watching the play.

Basically, what I’m trying to root out here is that maybe happy endings just aren’t what we really expect from life. Happy is stacks above content, and content is what most people would be comfortable with. Happy isn’t sustainable because frankly, it isn’t realistic and also, how exhausting would it be to be happy ALL the time? Not to say it always ends in tears BUT, we don’t expect any relationship of any sort to always be perfect. That doesn’t sit with human nature. Or maybe we are becoming too cynical, I don’t think so though. The evidence tells me we like it when reality is portrayed accurately and we are given the opportunity to see it from another perspective. 

Curious. Signing Out//Identity Detective (ENGLAND).

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