Bertolt Brecht was a German poet and playwright. He lived in exile for much of his life—first in Scandinavia and later in the United States, only to return to Berlin and found his own theater company, the Berliner Ensemble. His plays, the best known of which include The Three-penny Opera (1928) and Mother Courage and Her Children (1941), are the foundations of epic theater. This concept radically departed from theater conventions of the time and pushed forward a political theater that embodies revolutionary aims and contributes to social change. His ideas of a self-conscious and actively engaged spectator—a form of theater that addresses the immediate political and cultural circumstances—had a wide influence upon theater and the arts at large.