Bertolt Brecht was born on February 10, 1898 in Augsburg, Bavaria, and died on August 14, 1956. He was a German playwright, theatre director and Marxist. The modest house where he was born is today preserved as a Brecht Museum. Brecht formed a writing collective which became prolific and very influential. He wrote many lyrics for musicals and collaborated with Kurt Weill to create Die Dregroschenoper -- the biggest hit in 1920s Berlin. Brecht experimented with his own theater and company -- the Berliner Ensemble -- which put on his plays under his direction and which continued after his death with the assistance of his wife. Brecht aspired to create political theater, and it is difficult to evaluate his work in purely aesthetic terms. Brecht died in 1956.
Mark Ravenhill is one of the most distinctive contemporary UK playwrights. He burst on to the theatre scene in 1996 with the huge hit Shopping and Fucking. He has continued to garner critical acclaim for plays that include Some Explicit Polaroids, Mother Clap's Molly House, and more recently Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat (National Theatre, Royal Court, Paines Plough, The Gate Theatre, April 2008).