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Modern drama

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January 02, 2022

Modern drama

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aadams

January 02, 2022
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  1. Modern Drama AND THE PARADOX OF REALISM

  2. Hobbled by history European theatre was stagnating in the 19th

    century, relying on the restaging of older plays and formulaic productions. In various writing that would be compiled in Naturalism in the Theatre (1881), the noted novelist Emile Zola argued that drama had to modernize itself, lest it fall into cultural and aesthetic obsolescence. Rejecting the overblown tragedies and romantic histories that populated the current stage, Zola advocated a “naturalist” theatre that mirrored his own novelistic practices: “Instead of imagining an adventure, complicating it, preparing stage surprises, which from scene to scene will bring it to a final conclusion, one simply takes from life the history of a being, or a group of beings, whose acts one faithfully records.” This “faithful” recording process would set the stage for modern drama.
  3. The acts of life Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts is a stellar

    example of “acts one faithfully records.” This devasting drama has no “stage surprises,” trap doors, or theatrical tricks: the ghosts that haunt Mrs. Alving are the aftereffects of her late husband’s infidelity. Despite doing everything she could to keep her son from her husband’s corrupting influence, she cannot stop Oswald from succumbing to the congential syphilis he contracted in the womb. https://www.seattletimes. com/entertainment/theat er/artswest-explores- psychological-phantoms- in-ibsens-ghosts/
  4. It’s all natural What Zola considered “naturalism in theatre,” other

    critics term “realism.” While its is possible to differentiate the deterministic work of Ibsen from the empiricism of John Osborne, theatre practitioners do not consider “naturalism” and “realism” as distinct terms (as scholars of fiction do). They use the designations interchangeably. This may be due to the relatively late emergence of realism in drama. Naturalism comes to fiction well after realism is an established mode. The earliest “realist” playwrights are actually coeval with the rise of naturalism in fiction. For the most part, “modernism” is a decidedly non-realistic movement. Modern drama is the outlier. Scene from Miss Julie http://number9re views.blogspot.co m/2019/06/theat re-review-miss- julie-hope- mill.html
  5. Realism is where it’s at! Modern drama, unlike modern fiction,

    was created through movements toward realism. Focusing on reality was itself an innovation for the 19th- century stage--modernizing theatrical production by presenting “objective” observations of contemporary society. The seemingly amoral nature of this observation (Ibsen’s audiences were shocked by his representation of venereal disease and domestic violence), as well as its obvious topicality, made it decidedly modern--it was both shocking and new! Although there was a range of experimental (non-realistic) work that also populated the modern stage, realism was the core innovation. Promotion for Cherry Orchard https://www.newjerseystage.c om/articles/2017/09/28/chek hovs-the-cherry-orchard-to- open-rowans-theatre-season/
  6. Features of Realism KNOWABLE” CHARACTERS: Realist works are centered on

    “rounded” characters who interact convincingly with their environment and other characters. The motives of these psychologically complex characters often form the basis of the plot. DIALOGUE WHICH REPRODUCES “EVERYDAY” SPEECH: In order to establish verisimilitude, realist authors maintain a fidelity to “everyday” speech patterns, incorporating colloquial expression and decidedly non-poetic language. DETAILED SETTINGS OF A VERIFIABLE SOCIAL MILIEU: Realist theatre strives to represent the world it projects as accurately and as verifiably as it can. According to August Strindberg’s Preface to Miss Julie, “when one has only one set, one is entitled to demand that it be realistic—though there is nothing more difficult than to make a room which looks like a room, however skillful the artist may be at creating fire-spouting volcanoes and waterfalls.” Scene from Miss Julie http://number9re views.blogspot.co m/2019/06/theat re-review-miss- julie-hope- mill.html Scene from A Raisin in the Sun https://www.chicagoread er.com/chicago/invictus- theatre-brings-light-and- heat-to-a-raisin-in-the- sun/Content?oid=778921 39
  7. Features of Realism LINEAR PLOTS: Realist works are structured by

    linear plots that are propelled forward by causal events. Realist plays often redefine “action” in terms of internal motivation and desire, as opposed to external events and physical happenings. As Constantin Stanislavski argues in Inner Impulses, Inner Actions; Creative Objectives, “let us learn once and for all that the word ‘action’ is not something external, but rather something internal, nonphysical, a spiritual activity.” CLOSURE: Most critics now accede that realism is typified by a sense of resolution or “closure.” Because realist texts are often structured around a central enigma, the resolution or laying bare of that enigma is seen to create closure. (In other words, even a seemingly “open-ended” work like Trifles is “closed” because we learn how the murder occurred.) Many early proponents of realist works, though, often prided themselves on refusing to effect closure. According to G.B. Shaw’s “Against the Well-Made Play,” “the moment the dramatist gives up on accidents and catastrophes, and takes ‘slices of life’ as his material, he finds himself committed to plays that have no endings.” Scene from Miss Julie http://number9re views.blogspot.co m/2019/06/theat re-review-miss- julie-hope- mill.html Scene from Fences https://santamariatimes. com/entertainment/arts -and-theatre/pcpa- stages-a-powerful- fences-in-marian- theater/article_d23fc982 -6121-549a-b8ab- 9f1284763a19.html
  8. Features of Realism UNITY OF PERSPECTIVE: Unlike more traditional forms

    of theatre, which sought to unify the action, time or place of a dramatic work, realist theatre seeks to unify the entire “composition” of the performance. Detailed sets, carefully fabricated costumes, and fully realized characters are systematically integrated, and rendered complementary, in order to demonstrate the internal coherence, or unity, of the work. In order to effect the unity of perspective called for in realist works, directors had to have more control and more say in the production itself. Because staging, lighting, scripting, acting, and designing all had to fit together in a unified whole, the artificer behind the production (the director) began to get more visibility. As a result, modern theatre was no longer subordinated to the cult of the author or the cult of the actor. (David Belasco, pictured here, was a famed playwright who was also a gifted producer, director, and set designer.) https://en.wikipe dia.org/wiki/Davi d_Belasco#/medi a/File:David_Bela sco,_stage_produc er_(SAYRE_1163 5).jpg
  9. A new actor’s theatre Realism’s focus on “everyday” characters from

    the middle and lower classes who speak in current idiom presented a great difficulty to actors who had been trained to be particular “types.” Lead by the pioneering work of Stanislavski, actors began to be trained in “method” classes which encouraged them to uncover the “subtext” of a realist work. (Put over-simplistically, actors were taught to ask what the “motivation” of their particular character was.) Realism also required actors to work in ensembles and to see themselves as part of a successful production, rather than as individual talents. The now clichéd phrase, “there are no small parts, only small actors,” effectively captures realism’s ability to encourage a “unity of perspective” in acting style as well as in all other parts of the performance. https://www.goo dreads.com/book /show/178213.Bu ilding_a_Character
  10. Creating the “fourth wall” Realist theatre relies on proscenium stage,

    which creates a “window” to the action presented. The frame of the proscenium arch becomes an imaginary fourth wall between the actors and the audience. Because realist actors react with each other and with the environment on the illuminated stage, and do not acknowledge or seem to notice the audience in the darkened auditorium, they perpetuate the illusion that the action is “real”—thus casting the audience into the role of voyeur. Although this particular configuration may seem normal and even natural to contemporary audiences raised on television and movies (and computer screens), the fourth wall was an important innovation of realist drama. https://twitter.co m/E_N_O/status /76410620098826 6496/photo/1
  11. Related terms Mimesis is a Greek word that roughly translates

    into “imitation.” Aristotle uses the term throughout the Poetics in order to define what he believes to be the primary function of art—the copy or imitation of life. While the primary impetus of realist theatre is a mimetic one, the contemporary form of realism cannot and should not be conflated with this older and complex notion of “imitation.” Verisimilitude refers to a work of art’s ability to accurately and authentically reproduce the veneer of life or reality. Although realism relies heavily on the notion of verisimilitude (particularly in its fidelity to creating a verifiable social milieu), verisimilitude is not merely a feature of realism. Other modes also utilize elements of verisimilitude. MC Escher “Hands Drawing
  12. Modern drama’s paradox It’s real, but not. . . Most

    realist playwrights believed they were moving past the highly formulaic mode associated with the 19th-century playwrights Eugene Scribe and Victorien Sardou (the “well made play”), but contemporary commentators often see the denouements (a.k.a., conclusions) of realistic plays as somewhat “well-made.” Realism also relies on the consent of the audience. If audiences don’t perceive the elements of the theatrical production to be verisimilar, “reality” cannot be established on stage. And dramatic realism was forged alongside its conscious opposition: many modern playwrights and practitioners sought to create purposefully non- realistic productions. The absurdist masterpiece Waiting for Godot was staged only a few years after the debut of Death of a Salesman. Modern drama is not coterminous with realism, but “modernism” on the stage would never have been possible without the turn toward realism! https://ad4group.co m/schrodingers-cat- nd-the-marketing-
  13. https://ceoblognation.com/2017/12/final-curtain-december-2017/ *Cue applause*