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

Anti-realistic movements of late Modernism
Brockett ch. 14, 442-452; ch. 15 pp. 463-477

August STRINDBERG (1849-1912) Swedish
realistic early work: Miss Julie
"dream plays" influenced by Symbolism and Freud: plot and characters structure like dream
Ghost Sonata (1907), Dream Play (1902)

Max REINHARDT (1873-1943) German director (graphics pp. 444-6, 465)
1905 succeeds Brahm at Deutsches Theater,
adds Kammerspiele, or small theatre
primacy of theatre building itself in setting up atmosphere of play
work at hand sets style of production, realistic or non-real
"Regiebuch", or Rulebook, sets forth all aspects of production
Sumurun, The Miracle also tour to USA

Oscar WILDE (1856-1900) English writer, social critic
Aesthetic movement, or "art for art's sake"
Salome (1893), Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
Imprisoned for homosexuality

William POEL (1852-1934) English director (see p. 451)
uses Elizabethan staging conventions for Shakespeare
Elizabethan Stage Society (graphic p. 447)


ABBEY THEATRE: 1904, Irish myth, Celtic and Gaelic material
William Butler YEATS: poetic dramas (graphic p. 449)
Lady Augusta GREGORY: comedies of Irish life
John Millington SYNGE: symbolic plays
Riders to the Sea (1904), Playboy of the Western World (1907)

THE BALLETS RUSSES, Sergei Diaghilev (1909-29) (graphic p. 450)
spinoffs or break away from Moscow Art Theatre: MAT's 1st and 2nd Studios

Vsevolod MEYERHOLD: BIOMECHANICS, commedia techniques

director's vision supercedes playwright's leader after Revolution, briefly holds gov't posts
Gogol's Inspector General in 1926
Biomechanics: actors trained physically to respond as human machines CONSTRUCTIVISM: (see p. 486) set as "machine for acting"
Alexander TAIROV (1885-1950) Kamerny Theatre in Moscow (photo p. 452)
more actor-friendly than Meyerhold
ritualized speech and song,
architectural settings
post Revolution: plays from west
Jacques COPEAU's Theatre du Vieux Colombier (FRANCE) (photos p. 453)
inspired by anti-realism of Ballets Russes in Paris,
German and Russians to NYC 1917-19,
Paris after war ->1924, move to Burgundy
Cartel Des Quatres (4 directors) continues ideals in Paris
nephew Michel Saint-Denis forms company from Copeau's school,
1930 back to Paris: director at Comedie Francaise 1936-40
USA: decidedly behind the trends til the 1910's
Long run, star system, melodramas, extravaganzas dominate
Minstrely dies in favor of Vaudeville and early musical comedies
The Syndicate then the Shuberts gain a monopoly on theatre production
1956 court ruling says theatre is a commodity and anti-monopoly laws apply
Circuits tighten, booking agents arise
Directors in pictorial Realism style:
Minnie Madern FISKE (actor/director/producer) oppose Syndicate (Photo p. 456)

David BELASCO (actor->impresario) oppose Syndicate
wrote melodramatic scripts, made stars
The Governor's Lady (1912) full Child's restaurant on stage (photo p. 457)

Penny arcades -> large movie theatres;
Sports begin to overtake theatre as city, mass entertainments


REVOLVING STAGE 1896, Munich (graphics p. 459)
(on to Ch. 15, p. 463)

term moves from France and painting to poets of Germany c. 1910
Both an art movement and a style (ie. of theatre production)
External truth less valid than siritual, emotional, subjective life
Primitivism and animism;
Anti- machine, technology, war
Distortion of character, line, color;
Unrealistic sound and speech
Characters alienated from world;
Identified only as "man", "engineer"
Cabaret performances and art journals (H. Walden's "Der Sturm")

Georg KAISER (1878-1945) From Morn to Midnight (1916), Gas trilogy (1917-20)

Ernst TOLLER (1893-1939) Transfiguration (1918), Man and the Masses (1921) -- directed by Jurgen Fehling -- expressionist use of movement and light

Leopold Jessner (1878-1945) Jessnertreppen (step units) used for staging style, classic texts in expressionist style, emigrate USA 1933  (Graphic p. 467)

EPIC THEATRE: Erwin Piscator and Bertolt Brecht
both began working in expressionist style; political commitment as expressed in theatre (not subjectivity) leads to epic approach

Erwin PISCATOR (1893-1966)

Berlin's Volksbuhne: "proletarian drama".
Piscator theatre 1927.
Pioneers in projections, mixing media like cartoons.
Tie theatrical situation to immediate political concerns.
Emigrate to USA 1933. (graphic p. 467)
Bertolt BRECHT (1891-1956) Playwright, director, theorist.
Opposes Stanislavsky, but with him is most influential on theatre pratice of early 20th century. (photos p. 468)
Lehrstucke or "learning plays", Man is Man (1926), Threepenny Opera (w/ Kurt Weill, 1928)
Most work in exile after 1933: Mother Courage (1938-9), Good Person of Setzuan (1938-40), Caucasian Chalk Circle (1944-45)
Back to East Germany 1946
Berliner Ensemble: stages own plays, tours them, most influential company after WWII
VERFREMDUNGSEFFEKT -- Brecht's style: often translated as "Alienation effect"
mix of narrative and dramatic styles
characters demonstrate choices (NOT -- BUT), usually make a bad choice
use of music, exposed scenic and lighting elements, film slides and placards
tell action before occurs in scene, (watch for how/why not what happens)
actors "quote" characters and move from actor to character and back during production.
Expose MEANS OF PRODUCTION of theatre.

audience respond like at boxing match; smoke cigars, take sides and debate

1st major figure to argue AGAINST DIRECTORIAL UNITY
Brecht's article in Worthen "Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction"

BAUHAUS Weimar, Germany

Art school established by Walter Gropius, 1919;
mixed media work
Gropius' Total Theatre designed for Piscator, (see p. 470)
Oskar SCHLEMMER, directs theatre activities 1923-29, "ambulent architecture"
FRANCE after WWI (think of the number of expatriates there)

DADAISM 1916 pacifist expatriates in Switzerland

Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Hans Arp, Tristan Tzara
manifestos. many. esp. by Tzara
art and life inseparable. past art = dead art
irrational response to irrational world
perform poetry, music, dance, manifestos in Cabaret environment
simultaneity and chance;
serious point, but playful and fun
spreads to Paris, Germany, New York
Dada (anti-logic) + Freud (fantasy)
Andre Breton's manifesto 1924
Guillaume Appolinaire (1880-1918) Breasts of Teiresias (1903)
coins term "Symbolist"
Jean Cocteau Parade for Ballets Russes (1917) w/ Picasso's set and costumes, Infernal Machine (1934)
Antonin ARTAUD (1896-1948)
THEATRE OF CRUELTY, out of Surrealism
The Theatre and its Double (1938) lays out theory
live theatre should shock, use all senses to provoke audience
disrupt traditional actor/audience relationship: audience to center
goal is to bring the unconscious to the surface in the audience
"To drain abscesses collectively"
Firmin Gemier: Theatre National Populaire, 1920 (TNP)

Directors dominate in France, some placing themselves as central theatre artist

Jean Giraudoux (1882-1944), playwright worked with director Louis Jouvet (photos p. 473) Amphitryon 28 (1929), Ondine (1939)

Jean Anouilh (1910-87) Carnival of Thieves (1938), Antigone (1943)


FUTURISM; Filippo Marinetti leader and manifesto(s) author

revel in machine age, machines over humanity
like Dada: reject past, tie art and life, simultaneity, new relationship to audience.
perform poetry, dynamic sculpture, bruitisme, include technology
love nightclubs and circuses and models of vital theatre
publish "synthetic dramas" in 1915-16
Enrico Prampolini leader in 1920's: replace actor with moving, 3D scenery

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