Change the World. It Needs It!

Selected by Audrey

In the 1980s the Royal Festival Hall collaborated with the Brecht Centre in East Germany to create an exhibition of work by the influential German playwright Bertolt Brecht. The exhibition consisted of models from his plays, photographs of live performances and first-edition printed material.

This was part of the open foyer policy, established by the Greater London Council in 1983, and according to an exhibition flyer, the council hoped that the exhibition would encourage the public to visit the Royal Festival Hall throughout the day. Brecht was an appropriate choice who, as a Marxist, wanted his plays to be seen by a varied audience. 

He said in 1926 that theatre should be an institution for an audience ‘which really earns today’s money today and eats today’s beef today’. While the Royal Festival Hall had held free screenings before, the open foyer policy allowed the public into the building for free. It was a huge step towards the kind of democratic engagement with art that Bertolt Brecht had been inspired by in the Weimar Republic, where ‘art belonged to the people’.