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‡ ³Realism is a style, not a standard!´
(Donna Fontana 2003)




› is ³style´ was created in t e late
nineteent century as a reaction to t e
ot er ³movements´ in t e t eatre and t e
art world at t e time.

It as continued to be an important
style«for last 120 years.
‡ Origins in Ô 
ÿ late eig teent early nineteent centuries
ÿ revolt against t e artificiality of Neoclassicism.

It was an attempt to
reactivate passion!
Ô Ô 
‡ Inspired by«S akespeare«
ÿ rapid c ange of location«
‡ many plots«many c aracters«

‡ Goet e, is j  (1808, 1832) explores t e dept s of evil.

‡ Victor Hugo's«fervent exploration of events and c aracters.


‡ Alexandre Dumas: presents a sympat etic prostitute c aracter in


ÿ Swas buckling c aracters of an earlier time in
» › › 
‡ Edmond Rostand: t e last ³breat ´ of Romanticism (1897)
Its goal was to dazzle and ent rall t e
‡ New t eories of t e director¶s role
ÿ Georg, t e Duke of Saxeeiningen
emp asized ensemble acting
‡ abolis ed t e star system.
‡ staged uge productions wit an attention to detail
ÿ emp asized istorical accuracy.
‡ His troupe toured t roug out Europe and
influenced ot ers, suc as Constantin

Emp asis on
t eatricality
and spectacle

Introduced ³ istorically
accurate´ settings. Georg, Duke of Saxeeiningen

Created a ³stage picture.´ Director of t e einingen players

‡ Proscenium staging becomes popular to
ÿ Rapid c anges of location
ÿ Exotic locales
ÿ Splendid effects

Emp asized t eatricality

and spectacle
‡ Scenic innovations would become an
important aspect of realism and naturalism
Introduced to t eatre t e tec nology:
‡ › e ³box set´

› e ³invisible fourt wall´

‡ Electric lig ting was introduced in t e
1880s in England
ÿ At a performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan

Ideas of t e Nineteent Century

‡ C arles Darwin¶s £  (1859)

Scientific met odology applied to uman problem solving

Lower and middle class c aracters viewed as eroes

‡Sigmund Freud¶s examination of uman be avior²

Psyc ology of c aracters gains importance
ÿ Examined ³real´ people and problems.
‡ C aracters would move and talk in a manner
similar to t at of everyday be avior.
ÿ It t oug t of itself as a laboratory to study t e
ills of society.
› e stage would be an environment, rat er t an as an
acting platform.
³Likeness to life´ was its motto.
‡ ›    
ÿ ellade Play was formulated to ³crank out´
t e very popular ³melodramas´ of t e
nineteent century.
‡ Scribe and Sardou (1820s30s) devised t is
tec nique of playwriting.
‡ It was later embraced by Ibsen and ot er realists.
Norwegian Henrik Ibsen was
probably t e most influential figure
in modern
› eatre.

‡Saw drama as a means for social

c ange.


  (1879) was banned in


Henrik Ibsen¶s plays were t e

first to examine ³real people´ as
tragic c aracters.
!  1881
‡ S ocking subjects
ÿ Frank edekind¶s  
‡ S ocking subjects:

George Buec ner¶s w "

‡ Henrik Ibsen (18281906)
› e individual in conflict wit society

› e first to s ow t at tragedy could be

written about ordinary people speaking
ordinary language.

Ibsen¶s plays ad critics, even some w o

accused im of using t e ³wellmade
play´ formula to merely s ock t e
audience. He now olds t e title of
³fat er of modern realism.

‡ G

[  !

!" "
!  "     
 " %
‡ Ot er playwrig ts:
ÿ Ger art Hauptmann (18621946)
‡ Explored t e plig t of t e lower classes
ÿ George Bernard S aw (18561950)
‡A socialist, wrote to criticize society and inspire c ange.

S aw often employed comedic devices to expose suc subjects as

urban poverty and greed in t e arms manufacturing industry in  # 
w  $   (1902) addresses prostitution.
‡ ³Slice of life´
‡ Emile Zola (18401902)
ÿ Soug t to eliminate dramatic convention
ÿ › e c aracter of t e play is t e subject.
‡ Humans are mere figures in t e natural
‡ André Antoine
›   featured
meat carcasses on t e set.
‡ August Strindberg
Struggle of t e individual is
ore brutal and violent

› j   (1887) examines t e

In erent uman capacity for evil.

 (1888) pits man against
woman; servant against master.

³I ave depicted my c aracters as modern c aracters, living in an age of

transition«I ave made t em more vacillating«I ave ad my c aracters use
t eir brains only intermittently as people do in real life«´

‡ August Strindberg¶s %

1916 performance in
Anton C ek ov
‡ › e most important dramatist of t e
ÿ Late nineteent century early twentiet
‡ Did not consider imself a member of any
Anton C ek ov
‡ › e most modern
of playwrig ts

Created deeply complex

relations ips among t is c aracters
Plots and t emes are developed
³between t e lines´
Anton C ek ov
‡ ›  


‡ &
'  (1899)

‡ › ›  (1901)

‡ ›   £  (1904)

Anton Chekhov
‡ at is ³C ek ovian´?

‡ › e dog wandering around

on t e set barking«
Anton C ek ov
C ek ov imself ad complained t at t e ³actors act too muc ´ w en is
play ›  

was first performed by star actors in t e St. Petersburg

premiere. Stanislavsky developed an actor training met od w ic would
be adopted and embraced, particularly by American actors in t e
twentiet century.
‡ Constantin Stanislavski
› e oscow Art › eatre
‡ ³t e actors act too muc .´ C ek ov


Anton C ek ov
‡ C ek ov and company at t e oscow Art
› eatre

³Play t e subtext´
› e interrelations ips between t e c aracters.
‡ Bot Ibsen and C ek ov present a world
of un eroic individualists trapped in a
society t at t warted individualism and
starved creativity.
Stanislavski and t e oscow Art
› eatre
‡ Founded (wit Nemirovic Danc enko)

‡ C ampioned C ek ov¶s plays

‡ Developed actor training t eories to

accommodate t e demands of C ek ov¶s
› e oscow Art › eatre
› e oscow Art › eatre
‡ Visit to America«c anged acting forever
› e oscow Art › eatre
‡ Still active today
‡ › e Abbey › eatre 1904



Lady Gregory
ÿ Synge¶s $

ÿ O¶Casey¶s › $
‡ rote about ³lower class´ Iris not portrayed as

ÿ Influenced Eugene O¶Neill


‡ America¶s first great playwrig t


Born in a trunk«

‡  (    (1916)
Am   m
‡ Eugene O¶Neill (18881953)
ÿ America¶s first master dramatist
‡ Expressionism: ›   , › ( 

‡ Naturalism:   

‡ Greek ›ragedy retold:   (

‡ Autobiograp ical Naturalism: )  

%  * + 

‡ › ( % 

Explored expressionism

‡ )  %   +  (1954)

ÿ Autobiograp ical masterpiece

Only publis ed after is deat in 1953.
‡ Art ur iller

ÿ Elia Kazan
ÿ o ielziner
Built on t e wide social relevance and
stylistic innovation of American t eatre
in t e 1930s.
Am   m
‡ Elia Kazan
ÿ Group › eatre

ÿ Fusion of external realism and psyc ological symbols

ÿ A sense of subjective emotional vision interpreting t e

realistic outlines of material existence
ÿ Reinforced by t e acting style developed t roug t e
Actor¶s Studio
‡    & is a truly American
substyle developed by Elia Kazan and o
ielziner in order to stage t e plays of
Art ur iller and ›ennessee illiams in
t e midtwentiet century.
Am   m
‡ ielziner, iller, Kazan
‡ Art ur iller (19152005)

Expressed political passion based

on t e individual¶s imperative
to preserve is personal trut
against t e demands of a
materialistic or repressive
Art ur iller
‡ Art ur iller (19152005) is known for
tackling serious social issues suc as
wartime profiteering in 

t e broken ³American dream´ in     

 . In › 
, e reacts to
t e ³red scare´ witc unts of t e mid
twentiet century.

illie ³low man´

and t e loss of
t e ³American
‡ ›ennessee
Naturalistic on t e surface
›ennessee illiams
‡ Paralleling iller during t e post orld ar II period was t e
more poetic ›ennessee illiams (19111983).
‡ His autobiograp ical ³memory play´ › !
followed by four steamier dramatic classics:
ÿ  + 
ÿ     ›0 
ÿ › +   *  
‡ › ese plays are all idealizedsensually evocative c aracter studies,
often dealing wit c aracters¶ psyc ological weaknesses and inability to
cope wit t e ³brutalities´ of every day life.
‡ illiam¶s c aracters²Stanley Kowalski, Blanc e Dubois in particular
ave remained an indelible part of our national ³myt .´
‡  + 

Expresses t e interior psyc ological

turmoil of t e protagonist.

Blanc e Dubois
Am   m
‡ August ilson (19472006)

›en play dramatic cycle

explores African American
‡ In ilson¶s plays, poetry and mysticism
blend wit jazzlike ³riffs.´
ÿ usic plays an indelible part in is plays,
w ic all deal wit social and racial subjects.
ÿ During is lifetime e earned two Pulitzer
Prizes, seven ›ony nominations, and dozens
of ot er awards.
‡ j
‡ › $  ) 
Am   m
‡ › ere are many ot er playwrig ts w o
ave emerged in t e latter part of t e
twentiet century.

‡ e will examine t em furt er w en we

discuss playwriting.

‡› is style, w ic emp asizes t eatricality and spectacle, continues today in
t e form of nineteent century based musicals suc as › $    
£ , )1 
, and ›  

› ese styles are more prevalent in film and television.
It is more accurate to refer to t em as ³ eig tened´ realism.