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Mr Puntila and his Man Matti

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Mr Puntila and his Man Matti (German: Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti) is an epic comedy by the German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht. It was written in 1940 and first performed in 1948. The story describes the aristocratic land-owner Puntila's relationship to his servant, Matti, as well as his daughter, Eva, who he wants to marry off to an Attaché. Eva herself loves Matti and so Puntila has to decide whether to marry his daughter to his driver or to an Attaché, while he also deals with a drinking problem. In his essay "Notes on the Folk Play" (written in 1940), Brecht warns that "naturalistic acting is not enough in this case" and recommends an approach to staging that draws on the Commedia dell'Arte. The central relationship between Mr Puntila and Matti—in which Puntila is warm, friendly and loving when drunk, but cold, cynical and penny-pinching when sober—echoes the relationship between the Tramp and the Millionaire in Charlie Chaplin's City Lights (1931). The duality of Mr. Puntila is an example of Brecht's use of the literary device, the split character. The play is also an inspiration for some of the main characters in Vishal Bhardwaj's Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola.
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language: German
date of publication: 1950
genre: epic theatre
narrative location: Finland

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