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Chapter 6: From Romanticism to Realism


Title: Chapter 1: The Nature of Theatre Author: Shannon Bradford Last modified by: JAMES WORLEY Created Date: 6/3/2010 2:02:22 AM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 6: From Romanticism to Realism

Chapter 6 From Romanticism to Realism
  • Attitudes toward Neoclassicism began changing
    toward the end of the 18th century
  • Writers of the Sturm and Drang (Storm and Stress)
    school in Germany began writing serious plays
    that experimented both with bold subjects and
    dramatic form.
  • Neoclassical ideals reversed almost completely by
    early 19th century, resulting in the development
    of Romanticism

Romanticism Truth is to be found in the
Infinite Variety of Creation
Neoclassicism Truth is to be found in the
The Romantics valued Variety over Unity
  • The less a thing deviates from its natural state
    the more truthful it is
  • Shakespeares plays became an argument for
    ignoring the rules of neoclassicism
  • Mysterious and supernatural became common
  • Historical accuracy in settings and costumes was

  • The popular-culture manifestation of Romanticism
  • Melodrama music drama
  • Action accompanied by musical score that enhanced
    emotional tone
  • Emphasized clear moral tone and suspenseful plots
  • Set pattern of action Good are rewarded and Evil
    are punished poetic justice
  • Characters were stereotypes (Good, Evil)
  • Elaborately staged spectacle

  • Created variety through use of
  • Exotic locales
  • Special effects
  • Latest inventions
  • Dramatizations of popular novels and notorious
  • Horses for equestrian melodramas
  • Water tanks for aquatic melodramas

  • With advent of electricity (1880s), electric
    motors were used with treadmills to stage horse
    or chariot races
  • Panoramas were rigged on spools and moved in time
    with the treadmills panoramas long cloths on
    which continuous scenes were painted
  • Efforts to make action as realistic as possible
    by using machinery and special effects

Monte Cristo
  • Adapted from Dumass novel
  • Plot many incidents, but simple pattern
  • Goodness is victimized
  • Evil is triumphant for a time
  • Evil is exposed and punished
  • Goodness is vindicated
  • Characterization 3 categories of characters
  • Good
  • Evil
  • Functional

Monte Cristo
  • Attempted realistic/authentic costumes and
  • 8 settings required
  • Performed on a flat, sectioned floor
  • Emphasis on 3-dimensional pieces, including
  • Elevator traps raised and lowered heavy scenic
  • Developments in lighting
  • Gas table a central location from which all gas
    lines ran and from which the supply of gas to any
    part of the theatre could be controlled enabled
    lights to be brightened or dimmed
  • Limelight calcium compressed hydrogen and
    oxygen along with gas flame heated to
    incandescence bright spotlight

The Advent of Realism
  • Darwins theories (1859)
  • All forms of life have developed gradually from a
    common ancestry
  • Evolution of species explained by survival of
    the fittest
  • Implications of Darwins theories
  • Heredity and environment as primary causes for
    everything humans are or do
  • People cannot be held fully responsible for their
    actions since heredity and environment cannot be
    fully controlled
  • Progress
  • Humans are like other animals not separate from
  • Change, rather than fixity, as the norm

The Advent of Realism
  • Freuds theories
  • Basic human instincts aggression and sexuality
  • Without intervention, humans would seek to
    satisfy own instincts without regard for others
  • Need for socialization rewards and punishments
    teach acceptable behavior and develop a superego
  • Superego an interior, subconscious censor or
  • Right and wrong are not absolute relative to
    individual, family, society

Realism and Naturalism
  • Grounded in scientific outlook need to
    understand human behavior in terms of natural
    cause and effect
  • Pursuit of truth knowledge that can be verified
    through the 5 senses
  • The highest form of morality truth
  • Playwrights wrote primarily about contemporary
  • Introduced topics such as unsavory social

A Dolls House
  • Written by Henrik Ibsen (1879) Ibsen often
    called the founder of modern drama
  • Basic assumption that heredity and environment
    determine character and action
  • Play was considered controversial because it
    seemed like an attack on the family
  • Dramatic construction cause-to-effect, with late
    point of attack

A Dolls House
  • Single setting used throughout play
  • Box set set that fully encloses the acting
    space on 3 sides like the walls of a room, with
    one side removed
  • Box sets enabled more realistic representations
    of indoor spaces extensive use of furnishings
    and props
  • Actors sought realistic behavior interacted with
    setting and furnishings

Zola and Naturalism
  • Unlike Realism, Naturalism was not successful in
    the theatre, possibly due to its extreme demands
  • Chief advocate was Emile Zola (1840-1902)
  • Zola believed that the dramatist should expose
    social ills so that their causes could be

Zola and Naturalism
  • Naturalists believed that many Realists were more
    concerned with theatrical effectiveness than with
  • Play as a slice of life a segment of reality
    transferred to the stage
  • Naturalism as short-lived movement that produced
    few plays of significance

The Emergence of the Director
  • Prior to late 19th century, staging plays was the
    responsibility of the playwright, the head of the
    company, or the lead actor
  • Growing need for someone to unify all production
    elements, which were becoming more numerous and
    more complex
  • 2 key figures in the development and acceptance
    of the modern director
  • Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
  • Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen (1826-1914)

The Emergence of the Director
  • Richard Wagner
  • Sought to create a master artwork through a
    fusion of all the arts
  • Opposed Realism
  • Chose stories from German myths
  • Set his dramas to music

The Emergence of the Director
  • Richard Wagner
  • Wanted audience to be transported from everyday
    existence into an idealized, communal,
    near-religious experience
  • Seating as democratic fan-shaped pattern
  • First to darken auditorium during performance
  • Strong unity of production all elements of
    production filtered through a single
    consciousness to achieve a unified artistic effect

The Emergence of the Director
  • Georg II, duke of Saxe-Meiningen
  • Considered 1st director in modern sense
  • Exerted complete control over all aspects of
    production designed everything himself
  • Long rehearsal periods
  • Convincing crowd scenes, staged with precision
  • Total stage picture worked out carefully from
    moment to moment

The Independent Theatre Movement
  • Throughout most of Europe, plays had to be
    approved by a censor prior to performance for
    public audiences
  • Performances done by a group for its members only
    were considered private performances not subject
    to censorship

The Independent Theatre Movement
  • By the late 1880s, a number of small independent
    theatres exploited this loophole
  • Products of the Independent Theatre Movement
  • Playwright George Bernard Shaw
  • The Moscow Art Theatre
  • Playwright Anton Chekhov
  • Konstantin Stanislavsky and
  • The Stanislavsky System of acting

Konstantin Stanislavsky and The Stanislavsky
  • The most pervasive influence on acting during the
    20th century
  • Contains basic premises of what is necessary for
    effective acting
  • Body and voice must be trained and flexible
  • Be a skilled observer of human behavior
  • The Magic If
  • Understand each characters motivations and
  • Concentrate moment by moment