Theatre 203: F/History of Theatre Since the Seventeenth Century

Early Modernism:
Brockett ch. 13 pp. 377-79 (skim 379-96, 405-11 using this outline), ch. 14 pp. 421-442

Arrival of the Director:

Richard Wagner (1813-1883):
Festival Theatre at Bayreuth, open 1876 (graphics p. 422)
complete illusion of stage world
Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen (1826-1914)
With Ludwig Chronegk and Ellen Franz
tour 1976-90; script as center of production
total accuracy in visual details
orchestration of crowds (graphics p. 423, 424)
Modernism will require Director to provide unity, artistic purpose

Realism and Naturalism (appeal to intellectual/artistic elite)
(this material is in ch. 13)
Philosopher August Comte: Positivism: shun metaphysical explanations for material; all arts and sciences should seek to improve society
Science applied to art; or the human on stage as "rat in maze" as a style, more broadly applied, realism comes to mean pictorial detail

Eugene Scribe (1791-1861): well-made play

Alexandre Dumas fils:(1824-95) Camille (1852), Demi-monde (1855)

Victorien Sardou (1831-1908): (farce) A Scrap of Paper (1860)

Eugene Labiche (1815-88): (farce) The Italian Straw Hat (1851)

Directors apply Realism's "environment": Adolphe Montigny, Sardou

in England:

Charles Kean (Master of Revels in 1848) and pictorial realism
Squire and Marie Wilton Bancroft, with playwright Robertson
David Belasco and Augustin Daly: authors/directors/impresarios/star-makers who spread pictorial realism
Starring engagements hit height with Sarah Bernhardt (Fr), Ellen Terry (Eng), Eleanora Dusa (Ital, photo p. 426), Henry Irving (Eng), Edwin Booth (USA).
Stars slow spread of director's influence and of any "style" like Realism

(back to ch. 14)
Emile ZOLA and NATURALISM (extreme form of Realism, photo p. 428)
1870's follow Darwin: heredity and environment
Therese Raquin, novel and dramatization (1873)
"slice of life", usually gritty, crime, poverty, working class

Henrik Ibsen (Norway, 1828-1906) Modernism arrives
"It was as if the theatre of today were to be revolutionized by an Eskimo" Michael Meyer
"The door slam at the end of A Doll House ushered in the Age of Modernism" GB Shaw

1st stage: historical verse dramas, romantic
2nd stage: Modernism arrives with realistic dramas and well made play
A Doll House (1879), Hedda Gabler, Ghosts (1881)
3rd stage: toward Symbolism. Wild Duck (1884), When We Dead Awaken (1899)
last 2 stages writing in self-imposed exile; plays censored all over Europe
MODERNISM in theatre: (1879-1930)
western culture assimilates Darwin, Marx, Freud 
weds Realist aesthetic with well-made play
by 1900, new artistic styles leave behind well-made and realism
solidifies director's role
solidifies role of costumer and lighting designer
ensemble performance essential, 4th wall maintained
stage as environment created specifically for a given production

new theatre organizations to combat conservatism of large state theatres and censorship of plays like Ibsen's

private clubs with subscription audience; intentionally attract artistic and intellectual elite
pioneer new production styles, introduce new playwrights
often amateur performers, designers, directors.

Andre Antoine's Theatre Libre, 1887 (sketch p. 429)
1897 Theatre Antoine, then takes over at Odeon
Introduced Curel, Brieux, naturalist writers

Freie Buhne and Otto Brahm
Berlin 1889; Brahm as president of collective
1894 Brahm goes to Deutsches Theater, 1904 Lessing Th.
Introduced Gerhardt Hauptmann: Weavers, 1892, Schnitzler's Reigen 1900

Independent Theatre of JT Grein, London 1891
encourages George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Major Barbara (1905), St. Joan (1923). Fabian Society, stronger political convictions than other realists, more clever language, comedy

Royal Court (1904) and Harley Granville Barker (London)

Moscow Art Theatre (1898-)
Konstantin Stanislavsky: director/actor/acting pedagogy
Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko: director/dramaturge
Anton Chekhov: The Sea Gull (1896), The Cherry Orchard (1904) (photo p. 436)

Stanislavsky's System of Acting
teach control of inner life
continually train body and voice
study writers' text forgiven circumstances,
commitment to fictional world of play - like children at play
objective, action, subtext, obstacle - terms for creating life-like behavior for characters
illusion of the 1st time
SYMBOLISM; France, Manifesto pub. 1885
Baudelaire's poetry; Stephane Mallarme
anti-science; pro spiritual, emotional, metaphor&symbol, subjectivity
Paul Fort's Theatre d'Art
Aurelien-Marie Lugne-Poe's Theatre de l'Oeuvre -1899, reopen Toulouse Lautrec scenery
Maurice MAETERLINCK (1862-1949) Pelleas and Melisande, The Bluebird

Alfred JARRY's Ubu series: prefigure absurdism; bizarre and comic (graphic p. 439)

SCENIC DESIGN turns away from "pictorial realism" to simpler, more symbolic and 3D scenery

Adolphe APPIA(1862-1928) Swiss. Wagner's operas.
Score light like music
moving actor requires 3D, plastic/moving scenic environment
"The Work of Living Art"
(see p. 440)

Edward Gordon CRAIG (1872-1966) English. Son of actress Ellen Terry.
"artist of the theatre" controls all elements
"On The Art of the Theatre", "Mask"
(see p. 441)

Back to Theatre History Outlines