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Some 20th Century Theatre Innovations

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Title: Some 20th Century Theatre Innovations


1
Some 20th Century Theatre Innovations
2
  • Many innovators of modern drama were too
    confronting and different to be accepted and
    understood in their own life time
  • This was certainly the case with people such as
    Brecht, Artaud and others
  • Their ideas have now been accepted and allowed to
    influence many directors, designers and actors

3
Theatre Styles
  • Theatre of Cruelty
  • Poor Theatre
  • Theatre of the Absurd

4
Theatre of Cruelty
  • Antonin Artaud
  • French
  • 1895 1948
  • He was writing at the same time as Brecht was
    writing his Epic, political plays

5
  • Artaud used the term Theatre of Cruelty to
    define the style of work he believed was needed
    to revitalise the theatre
  • His theories were based around utilising a
    physical theatre language
  • He believed text provided nothing more than a
    starting point

6
  • Sound, space, movement, light, spectacle and non
    verbally based acting would combine, in Artauds
    view, to excite, shock and enthral audiences,
    forcing them to confront the inner, primal self

7
  • Artaud proclaimed that theatre should return to
    its primitive roots and aim to provide an
    experience of communal ritual
  • Artaud was interested in exploring the human mind

8
  • Artaud was a surrealist in the 1920s
  • He believed many dark secrets were hidden deep
    inside our minds (subconscious) that we are not
    aware of, that caused us to do the things we did
  • Artaud was deeply influenced by the Surrealist
    movement even when he left the movement

9
Surrealism Salvador Dali
  • Another member of the Surrelist movement was
    Salvador Dali
  • He was famous for his dream paintings filled with
    objects

10
Salvador Dalis paintings
11
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12
  • Artaud belived that theatre should force people
    to confront and heal their inner selves or they
    will become negative and destructive
  • He disapproved of the typical plays that dealt
    with social problems or individuals

13
  • Unlike Brecht who wanted to brainwash his
    audience with strong messages, Artaud thought
    that was a waste of time
  • Theatre needed to be more primitive and
    instinctive if it was to really touch people and
    change them
  • He used the term Theatre of Cruelty because he
    was forcing the audience to face itself. He was
    being cruel to be kind

14
  • Rituals and symbols were seen as powerful
  • The aim of Theatre of Cruelty was to crahs
    through the shell of bourgeois civilisation and
    its cultural restrictions and to get to a deeper,
    more spiritual plane
  • His quest was as much socially motivated as
    artistically

15
Theatre Spaces
  • Artaud felt that plays should be taken out of the
    traditional theatre building which he rejected as
    being too formal
  • He preferred large spaces such as warehouses
  • The audience intermingled with the actors
  • No scenery except for symbols

16
  • Lighting was to be fast and exciting
  • Sound was also important
  • Artaud believed that the audience could be
    assaulted with a fast paced light/sound/human
    show
  • He believed the audiences inner selves would be
    released and be confronted and healed

17
  • Although Artauds aims might seem far fetched,
    his ideas can be adapted into contemporary
    preformances
  • These days many people use drama in Artauds way
    to heal from psychological pain and this is
    called psychodrama

18
  • Artaud suffered mental and emotional breakdowns
  • This perhaps explains why he was interested in
    this area of drama
  • After he died his published works inspired many
    dramatists
  • In 1963 the Theatre of Cruelty was formed and
    Artauds ideas were materialised and toured

19
The Theatre and Its Double
  • Artauds book, The Theatre and Its Double was
    originally released in 1933
  • It was not really influential until after his
    death
  • Practioners such as Julian Beck and Judith
    Malina, founders of Americas Living Theatre,
    Joseph Chaikin and his Open Theatre, English
    director Peter Brook and Jerzy Grotowski, founder
    of the Polish Laboratory theatre, were all
    influenced by The Theatre and Its Double

20
  • Although this was not a theatre style based on
    text it still inspired several works in the
    written form
  • The most important of these written plays was the
    Peter Weiss play Marat/Sade

21
Poor Theatre
  • Jerzy Grotowski
  • Born in Poland 1933
  • His ideas about acting and theatre have
    conrtibuted greatly in that they reclaimed the
    essential importance and role of the actor

22
  • Grotowski reminded people that one did not need
    expensive sets, lighting and costumes
  • His theatre was actor based
  • Hence his theatre was called Poor Theatre

23
  • When all stage elements are removed, only the
    essentials are left actors and audience
  • The relationship between actor and audience is a
    powerful one which Grotowski studied closely as
    part of his laboratory

24
  • Great demands are made on actors in Poor Theatre
  • They are the centre of attention, the key
  • Effective actors must work on themselves until
    they can give of themselves fully
  • Grotowski worked intensely with his actors as he
    recognised that all individuals are unique

25
Towards a Poor Theatre
  • Grotowskis book Towards a Poor Theatre
    included many of the exercises that he used to
    free up his actors
  • Some of his techniques included silence/inner
    meditation, physical endurance and training in
    emotional memory
  • Emotional memory is reliving an event to
    recreate the emotion.

26
Theatre Spaces
  • Plays were staged in diverse settings
  • Ordinary rooms to warehouses
  • Like Artaud he saw no need to separate the
    audience and the actors
  • He wanted to create a dynamic audience
    relationship

27
  • Grotowski believed the power of the actor should
    be so strong that he/she could transform anything
    around him through the power of his/her belief
  • In other words the floor could become the sea or
    a boat, etc

28
  • Grotowskis influence came at the best possible
    time for it seemed to re-invent drama and the
    theatre t a time when dramatists had to compete
    with films, videos and television. The only plays
    at the time seemed to be lavish, expensive
    musicals
  • Gortowski showed us that even a vulnerable lone
    actor with no props can have as much impact as
    any blockbuster film

29
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30
Theatre of the Absurd
  • Absurdism was a movement based on the ideas of
    Existentialism
  • Existentialism was first developed by Jean-Paul
    Sartre and Albert Camus
  • They were both French
  • According to existentialists, life is meaningless
    just a series of acts - nothing

31
Jean-Paul Sartre
32
Albert Camus
33
  • Absurdist theatre rose to prominence in the
    1950s
  • Its precursors can probably be found in the works
    of earlier playwrights like Kafka, Jarry and
    Pirandello

34
Kafka
35
Jarry
36
Pirandello
37
Famous Absurdist Playwrights
  • Eugene Ionesco
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Jean Genet

38
Eugene Ionesco 1912 - 1994
39
Ionescos Plays
  • Rhinoceros
  • The Bald Soprano
  • The Chairs

40
Samuel Beckett 1906 - 1989
41
His plays
  • Waiting For Godot
  • Endgame
  • Krapps Last Tape

42
Jean Genet 1910 - 1986
43
His Plays
  • The Maids
  • The Balcony
  • The Blacks

44
Absurdist Plays
  • Absurdist plays highlight the meaningless or
    absurdity of life and often feature an underlying
    despair
  • The fundamental belief expressed in absurdist
    works is that humankind is lost in a godless
    universe, where their actions and behaviour
    become absurd and useless

45
  • The illogical and the irrational are at the heart
    of most absurdist drama
  • Characters tend to be archetypal
  • Language is irrelevant in the sense that it fails
    to convey meaning
  • Time and place have no real relevance either

46
  • Despite this grim outlook, Absurdist Theatre is
    essentially comic in nature
  • Humankind is deluded in its belief that it is at
    the centre of the universe
  • This is seen as a ridiculous proposal which
    warrants nothing more than laughter and derision

47
Features of Absurdist Plays
  • Features may include
  • Non-reality
  • No sense of time/place
  • Unusual characters
  • Absurd happenings
  • Chaos
  • Simple/minimal sets
  • Meaningless dialogue/word games
  • Repetition highlighting futility
  • Humour

48
  • Some people find Absurdist plays hard to
    understand and cope with, however the movement
    produced some very impressive plays which are
    still staged regularly today
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