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

English Language Theatre 1940's-1970's:
ch. 15 pp. 484-497, ch. 16 pp. 514-530

Realistic theatre adapts techniques from non-realistic movements
Along with musical theatre, the most popular live theatre in USA, England, Australia


Actor/Manager system dies out,
festivals appear and new ideas for national theatre
more emphasis on actors than directors/visual artists

OLD VIC, or Royal Victoria,

Under Lilian Baylis from 1898
Opera and, after 1914, Shakespeare (photo p. 485)
Aquire Sadler's Wells theatre and opera moves there: 1931 becomes English National Opera Compnay of today
Addition of ballet under Ballet Russes' Ninette de Valois becomes Royal Ballet of today
Tyrone Guthrie succeeds Baylis in 1937-45
Many outstanding actors: Sybil Thorndike (Saint Joan), Edith Evans (comedies), John Gielgud (also directs and briefly tries management) (photo p. 488 of Gielgud, Evans, Olivier)

Debuts of: Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Alec Guiness, Ralph Richardson

Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith under Nigel Playfair from 1918-32
classics with contemporary style (photo p. 485 - Beggar's Opera)

1919 Stratford-upon-Avon's Festival season resumes

Barry Jackson: Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Malvern Festival (photo p. 486)

Terence Gray: Cambridge Festival Theatre (photo p. 487)
highly stylized, theatre w/o proscenium

Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) comedies of manners: The Constant Wife (1927)

Noel Coward (1899-1973) (musical) comedies of manners: Private Lives (1930)

T.S. Eliot (transplanted American, 1888-1965) poetic drama: Murder in the Cathedral (1935) (photo p. 489)

Popular tradition: music hall -> music revue


LITTLE/INDEPENDENT Theatres emerge in USA, ca 1912, full force 1915

Chicago Little Theatre, Maurice Brown (Engl.) 1912
Toy Theatre, Boston 1912
Neighborhood Playhouse, Lewisohns and Agnes Morgan, NYC 1915
Washington Square Players, Lee Simonson and Philip Moeller, NYC 1915;     becomes Theatre Guild in 1919 after WWI
Provincetown Playhouse, Robert Edmond Jones, Kennth Macgowan, Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell, George Cram Cook, Provincetown -> NYC 1915
Similar to European movement, but incorporate non-realistic styles esp. in design, and (like Irish) desire for distinct national theatre, tours of Europeans inspire American theatres

New Stagecraft: (after Appia and Craig) Jones (graphics pp. 490-91), Simonson, Norman Bel Geddes (graphics 492-93), Aline Bernstein

1920's most turn professional or end

UNIVERSITY Theatre: often split from English depts.
George Pierce Baker at Radcliffe, then Harvard,
1924 Baker founds Yale Drama School
Thomas Wood Stevens at Carnegie Institute of Tech, PA
Stevens also founds Theatre School at the Chicago Art Institute, later Goodman
1920'S: rise of directors and experimentation with Repertory system
Arthur Hopkins (independent)
Eva LeGallienne at Civic Repertory Theatre
Bring Stanislavsky's ideas to American stage (after tours and Soviet defectors)
Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford founders add: Stella Adler, Elia Kazan, Morris Carnovsky
Produce Odets and other leftist plays during Great Depression
Directors turned to film and actors founded training studios; hence their influence has been enormous
WPA division creates "Arts Projects", employing over 10,000
Hallie Flanagan Davis, director
all genres of theatre and dance
"Living Newspaper", influenced by Epic theatre (photo p. 493)
Orson Welles gets his directing break (photo p. 494)
regular training and work for African American performers begins
National Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (1910)
Actor's Equity Association (1912), closed shop after 1924
Dramatists' Guild (1912), closed shop after 1926
United Scenic Artists (1918)

RESULT: better wages and working conditions but skyrocketing costs. Contributes to the decline of Broadway after 1927-28 season

PLAYWRIGHTS: Rules of Realism bent, but remains dominant style

Eugene O'NEILL (1888-1953)
early work expressionist: Emperor Jones 1920, The Hairy Ape 1922
late realistic, family: Long Day's Journey into Night 1939-41

Susan GLASPELL Trifles 1916, The Verge 1921

Elmer RICE expressioninst: The Adding Machine 1923

Lillian HELLMAN: The Children's Hour 1934, Little Foxes 1939

Clifford ODETS: Waiting for Lefty 1935, Golden Boy 1937

Thornton WILDER: Our Town 1938, Matchmaker 1954

Richard WRIGHT: Native Son 1942


Vaudeville continues and dies in Depression

Musical revues and Follies evolve into American Musical Comedy


SHOWBOAT 1927, Edna Ferber adapts her novel
music and lyrics by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II
all music supports story and character,
chorus members are characters
serious thematic material,
race relations explored with interracial cast

OKLAHOMA! 1943, music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
dance style evolves and role of dance in musical integrated
Agnes De Mille uses term choreographer, introduces ballet style and "dream ballet"
Ushers in "Golden Age" of the American Musical

(to Ch. 16: post WWII to 1968, start p. 514)

TV joins cinema in threat to live theatre's audience, economics
Broadway hits low ebb in 49-50, but Golden Age of musicals in full swing
Off Broadway and Off-off Broadway emerge to combat cost and conservatism
Decentralization: Regional repertory companies and summer festivals


Circle in the Square: Jose Quintero and Theodore Mann, 1951; contemp plays

Pheonix: Norris Houghton, 1953; diverse repertoire

Living Theatre: 1946, shift in 50's to Artaud and Brecht,
Julian Beck and Judith Malina;
The Brig 1963 -> OOB aesthetic, radical politics

LaMama ETC: ETC=Experimental Theatre Club, Ellen Stewart, 1961

Judson Church Poets' Theatre: Al Carmines and Maria Irene Fornes, 1961

Decentralize: birth of Regional Repertory theatres
Margo Jones - Theatre 47 in Dallas,
Nina Vance - Alley Theatre Houston,
Zelda Fichhandler - Arena Stage DC,
Tyrone Guthrie - Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis (photo p. 519) then Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario
Summer Festivals:
Stratford, Ontario 1953,
American Shakespeare Co in Stratford, CT 1955,
NY Shakespeare Festival and Joe Papp 1954,
Ashland OR
Birth of corporate funding: Ford Foundation 1959, TCG 1961,
National Endowment for the Arts 1965

Kazan as director, Jo Mielziner as designer, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller as playwrights exemplify the era. Most popular work transfers to screen. eliminate all unessential elements, acting purely realistic dealing with characters' inner lives, directors orchestrate realistic and non-realistic elements. (photos p. 515-17)

ACTORS' STUDIO: 1947, Robert Lewis, Kazan and Crawford;
then Strasberg on board
Marlon Brando epitomizes approach, or today Dustin Hoffman
Cable TV show on Bravo (I think)

Tennessee WILLIAMS (1911-83) term "poetic realism" comes from his work
Glass Menagerie (1945) Streetcar Named Desire (1947)

Arthur MILLER (b. 1916) allegorical stories, political referents
All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953)

William INGE (1913-73) Picnic 1953

Lorraine HANSBERRY (-1963) African American; A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

Neil SIMON (b. 1927) comedies The Odd Couple (1965), Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1970), Biloxi Blues (1984)

Edward ALBEE (b. 1928) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), Seascape (1974) (photo p. 521)

Arthur KOPIT (b. 1938) Oh, Dad, Poor Dad Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad (1960)


WEST SIDE STORY 1957: conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins

Leonard Bernstein (photo p. 522, Candide) and Stephen Sondheim try to create musical and lyrical idioms reflect characters;
Robbins' choreography flows fluidly from natural action to dance, and uses movement from source cultures
Golden Age dies with loss of optimism in Viet Nam era;
Many 1960's musicals reflect this: Cabaret 1966, Fiddler of the Roof 1964
Rock and Roll hits musicals 1968 with Hair!

Birth of National Theatres,
actor/director prominence continues,
decline of Old Vic,
Shakespearean films

Stratford Festival, Barry Jackson leader 46-48
attracts major young directors (Peter Brook) and star actors (Gielgud, Olivier)

Birth of festivals at Edinburgh (still a major "fringe" festival), Chichester (will become Royal National Theatre), Canterbury

THEATRE WORKSHOP, Joan Littlewood, 1945

in London's East End (working class)
improvisation, Brecht, but realistic acting (photo p. 525)
Brendan Behan The Hostage 1958
Sheila Delaney A Taste of Honey 1958
fosters "Angry Young Man" generation of writers: working class

John OSBORNE: Look Back in Anger 1956, Luther 1961 (photo p. 524);
"Angry Young Man" new movement

Arnold WESKER (Style similar to Osborne) The Kitchen 1958
founds Center 42 1962-71

Peter SHAFFER (b. 1926) Black Comedy (1965) Equus (1973) Amadeus (1979) (photo p. 526)

Harold PINTER (b. 1930) absurdist tradition, settings more realistic (photo p. 527)
The Birthday Party (1958) The Homecoming (1965) Betrayal (1978) Moonlight (1993)

1945 CEMA becomes Arts Council, independent but government funded
encourages repertory companies throughout Britain


1961 Stratford Festival becomes ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY, new charter
Sir Peter HALL, director (photo p. 528, 564)
enlarge to London (Aldwych) and Newcastle venues
Hall directs cycle of Shakespeare histories as "War of the Roses"
Peter BROOK and Michel Saint-Denis added as directors
Especially Brook (photo p. 529, 563) advocates new plays and new approaches: Artaud and Theatre of Cruelty lead to his Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss in 1964; Brecht also integrated into British theatre
Reputation as DIRECTOR's theatre in spite of terrific acting company
Lawrence Olivier and Kenneth Tynan (critic) create Chichester festival then
NATIONAL THEATRE out of Old Vic folks, 1963 (photo p. 529, 563)
"Classic, new and neglected plays", each in own style,
British and international artists
Reputation as ACTOR's theatre, in spite of terrific directors and designers and fostering new writers
Royal added in 1988 for 25th anniversary, also new artistic director Richard Eyre

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