In 1935 in Moscow, Mei Lanfang famously showed Brecht (and others) some gestures of classic Chinese theatre. This, Brecht said, was the source of his theory of “alienation.” Was it ethnocentric for Brecht to assume that the feeling of strangeness he experienced watching Mei Lanfang was intended by Mei? Can one talk about the Verfremsdungeffkt at all without generalizing from audience response to artist intention, or from artist intention to audience response?

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