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Transcript of Theatre History
Background : The World Wars
After World War I this became the era of unrest. The world was brought together by radio, telephone, and motion pictures. But, some were jealously guarding their independence and sovereignty.
Many historians believe that the political and economic unrest set the stage or totalitarianism in Europe, causing extremes of fascism to be horribly illustrated in Nazi Germany (Third Reich)
Innovators rebelled against commercial theatre, which did not compare to an artistic accomplishment with financial success. Cost of production increased because of inflation, depression, unionization, and other factors. Many innovators rebelled against realism. In the early 20th century many new departures including expressionism, futurism, dada, and surrealism were developed to isolate from realism. These theatrical movements either supported socialism or fascism.
: Directed Man and the Masses at Berlin’s Volksbuhne.
: Known for using platforms, flights of stairs, and change of lightning and costumes to reflect emotions. Most important work: Richard III (1919)
Leading exponent was Filippo Marinetti (They’re Coming: 1915). Futurists idealized war and the developing machine age. Futurists argued and attacked artistic ideals of the past , ridiculing “museum art” and that new forms had to be created for this new era. They advocated synthetic theatre of short, illogical dramatic pieces. Believed audiences should be confronted, antagonized, they argued against the separation of performers and audience. Incorporated new electronic media, puppetry, and visual arts into theatre.
Argued that the subconscious was the highest plane of reality and attempted to re-create its workings dramatically. Set in a dream world, mixing recognizable events with fantastic happenings.
Major exponent of surrealism.
French playwright, most important works were The Breasts of Tiresias (1917) and the ballet Parade (1917).
Jean Cocteau: Most important works were Antigone (1922), Orpheus (1926), and The Infernal Machine (1934)
Stainslaw Ignacy Witkiewicz: Polish surrealist, most important works were The Water Hen (1921) , The Cuttlefish (1922), and Gyubal Wahazar (1921)
Theatre of Cruelty
Series of essays and manifestos written in the 1930s theorized by Antonin Artaud. Artaud believed western theatre needed to be transformed; its literary tradition. Cruelty meaning that the viewers’ senses should not be bombarded. He wanted to make the audience the center of attention.
Antonin Artaud: Most radical and innovative theorist in France. His life reflects much of the anguish and pain with which his theories dealt. He was an actor who worked with several important directors including Lugne-Poe, Charles Dullin, George Pitoeff, and Louis Jouvet. Most notable role was the monk in Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.Founded the Theatre Alfred Jarry
Erwin Piscator was a epic director, who was greatly influenced by the communist revolution in Russia and developed the “proletarian theatre”. Piscator’s epic theatre was the first and foremost political and instigates social change.Walter Gropius designed a playhouse for him which could change for proscenium, thrust, to arena and was NEVER built. Gropius established schools of arts and crafts and of fine arts known as Bauhaus. Piscator’s most famous play was The Good Soldier Schweik which was an adaptation of Jarroslav Hasek’s Czechoslovakian. This production included film sequences, caricatures, marionettes, and other theatrical devices.
Bertolt Brecht & His EPIC Theatre
Bertolt Brecht: Epic dramatist. His father offered to publish his first play Baal (1918). Brecht’s theories were based on episodic in structure. His goal was to instruct and create an intellectual climate in social change. His short dramas called Lehrstucke “learning pieces” which attacked theatrical works created purely for mass consumption and entertainment. The audience should be involved not emotionally, but intellectually. Narrators used frequently, lightning instruments visible, multimedia used,audeicne should be aware of watching an actor play a character, to alienate the audience
Mother Courage and Her Children
During Bertolt Brecht's time of exile he could refine his ideas on epic theatre including his most notable Mother Courage and Her Children. He opened his own theatre which the government gave him called Berliner Ensemble in 1949. First production presented was Mother Courage and Her Children. This play reflects many of his ideas of epic theatre.
Promoted text-oriented theatre and felt naturalism denied the “essential theatricality” of theatre. Founded the Theatre du Vieux Colombier.
“style of painting”. A movement in art and literature in which the representation of reality is distorted to communicate inner feelings. Consider the first cousin to symbolism. Expressionist plays have well-defined characters, highly subjective, opposed to society and the family. Highly subjective meaning the dramatic action is seen through the eyes of the protagonist and seems distorted and dreamlike. Structured as station plays.
A reaction to the insanity of World War I and its proponents argued against the mirrored madness of the world. Railed against the traditional “museum art”, attempted to confuse and antagonize
their audiences were pacifists who did not glorify war, and presented short plays that defied rational explanation (reflected the way the irrationality of the world that surrounded the people).
: Wrote a series of manifestos in 1916 in Switzerland.
European Theatres Journey through the War Years
Giraudoux & Anouilh
Jean Giraudoux: French playwright whose plays were directed by Jouvet and believed in the primacy of the world. Notable works: Amphitryon 38 (1929) , Judith (1931), The Trojan War Will Not Take Place (1935), and Odine (1939).
Jean Anouilh: French playwright who used a classic source (Antigone-1934) to rework the Greek classic which spoke on the situation in Nazi-occupied France.
Most esteemed philosopher:
Miguel De Unamuno
wrote The Tragic Sense of Life a treatise about theatre.
Federico Garcia Lorca
Best known 20th century poet and playwright. Notable works: tragic trilogy Blood Wedding (1935), Yerma (1934), and The House Bernarda Alba (1936).
Italian dramatist experimented with theatrical techniques to dramatize ideas that fascinated him. Pirandello's plays often engaged in philosophical debates ; the relationship between appearance and reality. Notable work was Right You Are If You Think You Are (1916). Founded the Teatro d’Arte
Harley Granville-Barker and Tyrone Guthrie:
Britain’s noteworthy directors
Acclaimed in Shakespearean and modern roles. Greatest English-speaking actor. Joined the Old Vic company and notable work was his uncut production of Hamlet.
First known to audiences in the U.S. during a tour in 1935 with the Old Vic company. Knighted in 1941
Achieved popular success as an actor in the 1930s. Directed plays and managed theatre companies (Queen’s Theatre & Haymarket) Knighted in 1953
Theatres Under Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism curtailed the development of European theatre and drama .The government supported theatres, used as instruments of propaganda. Expression and experimentation were suppressed
International Theatres (1915-1945)
During the 1920s and 1930s in Mexico playwrights and theatre groups emerged. Austrailia
On Our Selection was a native drama and the most frequently performed drama between 1912 and 1920.
He was the most renowned modern performer of Peking opera
Kathakali in India
Theatre in China
Theatre in Japan
Kathakali in India
A form of dance drama that was prominent in southwestern India
Theatre in Japan
Japan was leftist of political drama, and based plays on German and Russian models. Kishida Kunio the finest literary dramatist.
American Theatre : Playwrights
Elmer Rice : The Adding Machine (1923)
Thornton Wilder : In Our Town (1938)
Maxwell Anderson: Winterset (1935)
Clifford Odets: New vigorous realism emerged
Lillian Hellman: The Little Foxes (1938)
American Theatre: Commercial and Non-Commercial
Commercial and Noncommercial Theatre: Expected detail and authentic settings and lightning. The American director David Belasco was the popularizer of authentic settings and lightning. The Theatrical Syndicate controlled theatre in the U.S. Most successfully commercial form was the musical. Noncommercial theatre started after the beginning time of WWI playwrights, directors, actors, and producers developed serious theatre established in Europe which included realism and non-realism.
: First German expressionist playwright. Most important works: The Son (1914) and Antigone (1916)
: German expressionist who’s most important works: From Morn to Midnight (1916), Trilogy: Corral (1917), Gas (1918), Gas II (1920)
: German expressionist who also depicted the descent from optimism to disillusionment. Most important work: Man and the Masses (1921)
The leading American playwright who wrote every form of drama. His goal to bring American theatre to maturity; which he succeeded. Notable works: Beyond the Horizon, The Hairy Ape(1922), Mourning Becomes Electra (1931), The Iceman Cometh (1939).
Rachel Crothers most successful playwright, notable works includes He and She (1920) and Susan and God (1937).
Zona Gale was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Miss Lulu Bett (1920).
Zoe Atkins Pulitzer winner (The Old Maid-1934) and Sophie Treadwell who wrote Machinal (1928).
The "Little Theatre' Movement
The spiritual heirs of independent theatres. The Provincetown and The Washington Square Players were the little theatres being flourished.
The Group Theatre
Referred to as the America’s Moscow Art Theatre was non-commercial company which produced plays in the Broadway district. Founded by Lee Strasberg, Cheryl Crawford, and Harold Clurman.
Member of Moscow Art Theatre who emerged Stanislavski’s theory of acting to the United States.
The Federal Theatre Project
Headed by Hallie Flanagan Davis which supported theatrical ventures throughout the U.S. and helped to revitalize interest in the theatre outside New York City. Developed the living newspaper.
College and University Theatres
George Pierce at Harvard and Yale, Thomas Wood Stevens at Carnegie IT (Carnegie Mellon) , Frederick Koch at the University of N. Carolina
African American Theatre
1920s: The formation of African American stock companies. The Lafayette Players was the most significant. African Americans were making inroads in commercial theatre during this time.
Theatre In China
Became the focal point for a growing interest in modern spoken Chinese drama, on social themes. Cao Yu a Chinese playwright grasped on modern dramaturgy and social injustice.
Ethel Waters was a Broadway and motion picture actress and singer. Most notable performance was A Member of the Wedding in 1950
The Federal Theatre Project helped the artists through this time. In the 1940s many new African American stars were introduced including Paul Roberson. Paul Roberson was a leading actor and had a controversial career. Notable work was The Emperor Jones.