Brecht used the words “[It] is
an attempt to use a didactic play to cultivate a certain intervening attitude”
to preface his play Die Maßnahme, which recounts the story of a task, an action
taken involving various means and decisions.
Four agitators are debating
their decision. Five of them had been assigned the task of supporting the
Communist movement in China.
The youngest of them had acted according to “his heart,” flouting laws and
thereby endangering all of them and the assignment. With his consent, the other
four killed the youngest one and threw his body into a lime-pit – thus also
mutually agreeing to expunge any traces of suspicion. *
The piece ends with an argument
about principles – how grossly one may breach fundamental moral tenets when combating
oppression and exploitation.
This is another didactic work
which Brecht modelled on Japanese Noh theatre. It was hotly controversial after
its first performance in 1930; Brecht made a second version in 1932.
Due to possible
misunderstandings of the play’s political orientation, Brecht forbade its
performance; the prohibition was lifted for his 100th birthday in 1998.
* Excerpts from the programme
booklet, Dresden State Playhouse, 2000/2001 season