Part of what is inspiring about Brecht’s going to East Germany, Mr. Eustis said, was his courage in joining the new regime. At the time he was writing his treatise on how the theatrical ideal is never to fully engage the audience but to leave it critically detached, as he always was. So even while he was torn between engaging in, and detaching from, the struggles he saw and felt, he did manage, with some success, to be and not to be.
“He took on all these contradictions you have to deal with in order to be politically effective and artistically effective,” Mr. Eustis said. “It was about being willing to enter into the messiness of history.”
However misleading, the plate is ultimately not the bitter pill one may think. When sifting through history’s mess, it can be hard to distinguish between stuff made sincerely and that made cynically. But for those of us who can appreciate kitsch, there is always hope.