Believe it or not, until now there has not been a comprehensive history of the Berliner Ensemble. This gap has now been filled by David Barnett's History of the Berliner Ensemble, published by Cambridge University Press.
The Berliner Ensemble was founded by Bertolt Brecht and his wife Helene Weigel in 1949. The company soon gained international prominence, and its productions and philosophy influenced the work of theatre-makers around the world. David Barnett's book is the first study of the company in any language. Based on extensive archival research, it uncovers Brecht's working methods and those of the company's most important directors after his death. The book considers the boon and burden of Brecht's legacy and provides new insights into battles waged behind the scenes for the preservation of the Brechtian tradition. The Berliner Ensemble was also the German Democratic Republic's most prestigious cultural export, attracting attention from the highest circles of government, and from the Stasi, before it privatised itself after German reunification in 1990. Barnett pieces together a complex history that sheds light on both the company's groundbreaking productions and their turbulent times.