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Bertolt Brecht

A Respectable Wedding

Die Kleinbürgerhochzeit

Director Primož Ekart

One-act comedy
Translator Urška P. Černe
Opening May 2025


Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), one of the most important European playwrights and theatre theorists of the 20th century, theatre reformer and innovator, began writing while studying biology and medicine in Munich. In 1924 he moved to Berlin and became assistant to the famous director Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater. During this period, he wrote plays that signal his epic theatre with its alienation effects that constantly remind the audience that they are at a theatre and break the illusion of reality. In 1928, he achieved great success and became a famous and celebrated playwright with Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera). After Nazis came to power in 1933, he left Germany and travelled all over Europe until the start of the Second World War, when he left for the USA in 1941. His best works were written during this period. In 1948 he returned to East Berlin, where he and his wife Helene Weigel founded the Berliner Ensemble Theatre where most of his works were performed. Brecht’s theoretical views on epic theatre had a profound impact on modern playwriting which adopted most of his alienation effects and adapted them to contemporary aesthetics.
He wrote A Respectable Wedding as a 21-year-old student, first with the title Die Hochzeit (A Wedding), along with five one-act plays and a libretto of a short opera. It took seven years for A Wedding to be staged for the first time, on 11 December 1926, directed by Melchior Vischer. Brecht never staged it himself, although initially he had great ambitions to stage one-act plays. In 1956 it was revived at the Schauspielhaus in Frankfurt am Main, with the changed title A Respectable Wedding.
One-act plays were perceived by Brecht as creative exercises, or sketches he developed in his subsequent work. Many of the elements, characters traits and motifs in the one-act plays can be found in his later full-length plays.
During a festive wedding luncheon which is supposed to be the most glorious event in a young couple’s life together everything goes wrong. The wedding day turns into a disaster. The furniture, home-made by the groom, starts to collapse. In the conversations between the bride and groom and the wedding party, suppressed secrets begin to surface, putting everyone present in an agonizingly awkward position; it looks as if their marriage is about to collapse along with the furniture. 
Brecht derided with a great deal of humour the false morals of the petit bourgeois society. A Respectable Wedding is a social satire, a comedy and a farce that uncompromisingly bares the false world of petit bourgeois glamour as a world of lies, deceitful double moral standards, shallowness, pettiness, and misery, in which everyone pretends to be better, smarter and more accomplished than they really are. The play excels in brilliant dialogues, amazing verbal comedy, unexpected plot twists, the multiplicity of meaning, revealing the true nature of the pretend perfection of a bourgeois community.

A Respectable Wedding is a social satire, a comedy, and a farce, in which Brecht dealt with the double morals of the petit bourgeois society of his time. Not only did he satirically sketch this social class and its characteristics, he also superbly played with portraying the personality traits of its individual members. These character traits are well known to us; each of us shares at least some of the attributes of Brecht's characters. However, the circumstances and the world in which petit bourgeoisie as a social phenomenon can thrive and flourish have changed. What is the context in which petit bourgeoisie manifests itself today? Is it their riches and real estate, hastily acquired by means of cryptocurrencies, influence peddling and similar means of acquiring disproportionately vast assets, appropriated by the class who, only yesterday, were doing all sorts of drudgery? As if overnight, they get to wear stilettos and shoes of prestigious brands, scratching the parquet floors of their living rooms in their villas and mansions, and believe they are an elite, or conversely, are considered elite by others. Can this phenomenon be detected in any other contemporary context?”   
                                                                                                        Primož Ekart, director