The strongest influence on theatre practitioners within the last 50 years or more has been that of Bertold Brecht (1898 - 1956) who believed that drama of the time was too passive. Comfortable in their position in the warm dark theatres, the "responsibility" of the audience was to watch the scenes unfold before them. Although the audience might have sympathised with the onstage events, they simply accepted them as preordained. Convinced that theatre should be political in addition to being entertaining; Brecht wanted audiences to react upon seeing injustice or suffering on stage, leaving the theatre determined to act upon what they had observed. Brecht's claim to originality is that he invented a theatre of statement in which he revealed each and every mans need to define himself in a positive, challenging relationship with society. (Matric drama notes, Ronnie Burton, 2002) " I wanted to take the principal that it was not just a matter of interpreting the world but changing it, and apply that to theatre." (Brecht, 1964: 136) The aim of the technique Brecht developed, was to compel audiences to embrace an approach of enquiry, criticism, analysis and evaluation concerning the onstage events and their relativity to social conditions of the time. (Brecht, 1964: 136) .
To aid the audiences" objective assessment of onstage action, Brecht developed a technique of alienation also known as the a-effect or distancing technique involving the process of taking human social incidents to be portrayed and labelling them as something calling for an explanation. The intention behind this effect is allowing the audience to criticise constructively from an objective viewpoint. Brecht's aim in alienating an incident or character is to take away from that incident or character what makes it obvious, familiar and understandable and surround it with curiosity. Due to the playwrights influencing of the audience to be detached and think for themselves, audiences are drawn away from the sentimentality of the play and forced to make conscious decisions relating to issues with socially practical significance dealt with in the play.