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Transcript of Melodrama
The melodrama was the primary form of theatre during the 19th century, despite other influences, becoming the most popular by 1840. Melodrama is still with us today.
In the early 1800’s, most were romantic, exotic, or supernatural.
In the 1820’s, they became more familiar in settings and characters.
In the 1830’s, became more elevated: "gentlemanly" melodrama.
Melodrama - Comes from "music drama" – music was used to increase emotions or to signify characters (signature music).
- There are two main characters in a melodrama, a good one and an evil one.
- Episodic form: the villain poses a threat, the hero or heroine escapes, etc.—with a happy ending.
- Almost never five acts – usually 2-5 (five acts reserved for "serious" drama).
- Many special effects: fires, explosions, drownings, earthquakes.
Characteristics of Melodrama: Types of Melodrama: Dion Boucicault lived from 1822 to 1890 He was the most successful playwright of English-language melodramas. He wrote Corsican Brothers in 1852 and the Octoroon in 1859. He combined
sentiment, wit, and local color with sensational and spectacular endings.
He was the first in the U.S. to demand and receive royalties for performances of his plays. His plays contained volcanoes, earthquakes, burning buildings, etc.
The Storming of the Bastille in 1789
In the age before television and radio, it is a way of getting information
Strong sense of patriotism create a biased version of events
During the Crimean War 1854, it reached its peak
The British Navy during 18th and 19th century create naval stories
1794, Drury Lane featured a lake onstage
1803, Sadler's Wells theatre enormous water tanks (50000 gallons and 7000gallons)
Jolly Jack Tar character (brave, virtuous, and immensely patriotic)
Dramatic rescue scene and a lively dance to attract the attention of the audience
René Charles Guilbert de Pixérécourt lived from 1773 to 1844. He wrote over 100 plays. He specialized in canine melodramas, disaster melodramas. He wrote melodramas with floods volcanoes and other natural disasters. He even directed some of his own plays. His plays easily identified character types and startling theatrical, effects that were more important than the dialog.
August Friederich von Kotzebue lived from 1761 until 1819. He was a German playwright who wrote over 200 plays. He wrote domestic melodramas. He treated people with dignity. He often introduced controversial views without offending the audience. He helped them ask questions of life and society. He was often called the “father of sensationalism” because he mixed sentimental philosophy with startling sentimental effects. Works Cited
The first type of melodrama
Romantic settings, such as crumbling castles, or forest cottages
Castles and forests are dark and gloomy although they are brightened by flashes of lightening
Dungeons inhabited by either ghosts or rightful heirs
Frightening, foreboding and mysterious atmosphere
Famous Melodramas The most famous melodrama was Uncle Tom's Cabin -a novel written by Harriet Beacher Stow. George L. Aiken's dramatization of Uncle Tom's Cabin was the most popular. He wrote the first play in 1853. His melodrama was preformed 325 in New York.
In the 1870’s, at least 50 companies were preforming it in the U.S. By 1899 500 companies were preforming it. In 1927, 12 companies were still doing it. Since 1900,12 movie versions have been made. Uncle Tom's Cabin was the most popular melodrama in the world until the First World War. The main theme is that slavery is an evil institution. Along those same lines, another theme is that no human being has the right to deprive another human being of freedom. Famous Melodramas Continued Another Famous Melodrama is All that Heaven Allows by Douglas Sirk. This Melodrama was written in 1955. It was Initially dismissed as a weepy "woman's picture," but now it is considered one of the greatest melodramas of the 1950s. The main themes of this melodrama are loneliness and repression. In this melodrama an upper-class widow falls in love with a much younger, down-to-earth nurseryman, much to the disapproval of her children and criticism of her country club peers. By Marissa and Lilla The costumes were usually appropriate to the era in which the performance took place.
The performances used expolsions and unique stages like elevator stages, pools on the stage, and turning stages.
Movements such as Romanticism and Realism were going on during that time, so they had an effect on the costumes and stages. Stage and Costume Design Influences of Melodramas
In the gradual, over-arching path towards Illusionism, Western theatre generally moves from:
- huge outdoor amphitheatres to smaller indoor theatres
- communal arena and thrust arrangements to action focused behind a proscenium arch, viewed from one vantagepoint.
- generalized setting of Greek and Elizabethan facade stages to Renaissance perspective painting and eventually box sets - realistic sets to represent real specific locations
-generalized costumes to individualized costumes for individual characters
-natural lighting to oil lamps to gas to electricity
-large, stylized acting (including masks and women played by men, and spoken verse) to smaller gestures, close-ups of film, and more natural vocal delivery)
-staging that is very general (actors declaiming lines at front of apron stage and then receding when it's "not their turn") to actors performing detailed blocking within a 3 dimensional setting
-play texts move from poetry to prose, plays about kings to plays about middle class The movements that influenced melodramas were Romanticism, realism and illusionism. Romanticism helped with the protagonist. Illusionism contributed to stage and costume design and realism contributed to the characters personalities. The characters were easy to relate to.