From Romanticism to Realism

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					From Romanticism to

        The Essential Theatre. Ch6.
 The late  XVIII and early XIX centuries
  brought a reaction against the neoclassical
  rules that had dominated dramatic writing
  since the mid-seventieth century.
 Most of the strictures of neoclassicism
  were applied only to „regular‟ drama
  (comedy and tragedy written in five acts).
  Perhaps for this reason a number of
  „irregular „ forms gained [popularity during
  the XVIII century
The Emergence of Romanticism
  Toward the end of the eighteenth century,
  the attitudes that had supported
  neoclassicism began to change, and
  several playwrights in Germany (Storm
  and Stress) school began to write serious
  plays the experimented both with bold
  subjects and dramatic form.
The Emergence of Romanticism
   Perhaps the changes in critical attitudes
   are best summed up in relation to
   Shakespeare. Although Shakespeare had
   always been popular in England, where
   many of his plays held a firm place in the
   repertory, they were not performed in
   any other European country until the late
   eighteenth century.
The Emergence of Romanticism
   Insum, the theatre underwent major
   alterations during the early nineteenth
   century. In this new climate melodrama
   flourished, becoming to the general public
   what Shakespeare was to elitist audiences.
The Emergence of Romanticism
 Romanticism was  to be the dominant
  artistic movement during the first half of
  the nineteenth century.
 Melodrama was    the popular-culture
  manifestation of Romanticism and as such
  was the most popular dramatic form of
  the nineteenth century.
Melodrama had a large
musical element, as
suggested by its name,
which literally means
„music drama‟.
 The popularity of melodrama in the
 nineteenth century is explained in part by
 fundamental changes in social and
 economic conditions stemming from the
 industrial revolution.
 London had supported only two or three
 theatres during the eighteenth century ,
 but between 1800 and 1850, its
 population doubled and the number of its
 theatres grew to more than twenty.
 Because the  pattern of melodrama is
 always the same (good threatened by evil,
 with the eventual triumph of good),
 variety was gained through such novelties
 as exotic locales, ever-more-spectacular
 effects, increased realism, incorporation
 into the action of the latest inventions,
 and dramatizations of popular novels or
 notorious crimes.
                  became common in the
 After electricity
 1880s , electric motors were coupled
 with treadmills to stage horse or chariot
 Inmelodrama, realistic spectacle, thrilling
 effects, novelty, suspense, and the
 vindication of virtue were the major
Monte Cristo

 Monte Cristo    is a dramatization of
  Alexandre Dumas pere‟s The Count of
  Monte Cristo (1845), one of the world‟s
  most popular novels.
 At first it was in twenty acts (two
  evenings to perform). In 1885, James
  O‟Neill purchased the rights to this
  version and made numerous revisions.
Monte Cristo
 Reducing Dumas‟s  novel of several
 hundred pages to a play that could be
 performed in two or three hours was a
 formidable task, but not unusual in the
 nineteenth century, because popular
 novels were typically dramatized quickly
 following their publication.
Monte Cristo
 The sweep   of Monte Cristo is neater to
  that of Shakespeare‟s plays than to that of
  plays by Sophocles or Moliere.
 Like other melodramas, Monte Cristo
  shows goodness victimized and evil
  triumphant for a time, but ultimately evil
  is exposed and punished and goodness is
Monte Cristo
 The turning point , Edmund‟s escape, has a
 miraculous quality both in the event itself
 and in Faria‟s legacy of enormous wealth,
 which makes Edmund‟s revenge possible.
Monte Cristo
 Characterization isfar simpler than plot
 in Monte Cristo. The characters can be
 divided into three categories:
 ◦ good (Edmund, Mercedes, Noirtier, Albert),
 ◦ evil (Danglars, Fernand,Villefort),
 ◦ functional (sailors, fishermen, policemen,
Monte Cristo
 The characters are always wholly
  conscious of their motives and feelings
  and state them to the audience.
 Next to suspenseful and morally satisfying
  plots, melodrama owed its appeal most to
Monte Cristo
 Monte Cristo requires eight sets, two of
 which were probably simple and very
 shallow, permitting more complex sets to
 be erected behind them while a scene
 was in progress.
Monte Cristo
 The demands    of the Chateau d‟If scene
 illustrate the changes that had occurred in
 scenic practices by the late nineteenth
Monte Cristo
 By the late nineteenth century, the stage
 floor in most theatres was divided into
 sections a few feet wide, any of which
 could be removed to create an opening
 extending completely across the stage.
Monte Cristo
 Touring such complex   productions was
 made possible by the development of
 dependable transportation, which became
 a reality with the spread of railroads.
Monte Cristo
 Melodrama‟s visual appeal was further
 enhanced by lighting, the potential of
 which had increased greatly after gas
 replaced candles and oil during the first
 half of the nineteenth century.
Monte Cristo
 O‟Neillsproduction of Monte Cristo calls
 attention to another change then
 underway: Long runs of single plays
 performed by actors hired for that
 production only were replacing a
 repertory of plays performed in rotation
 by a permanent company.
Monte Cristo
 With  melodrama, the theatre in the
  nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
  achieved its greatest mass appeal.
 The popular entertainment of the late
  nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
  especially melodrama, was the meeting
  ground for theatre and film and was
  crucial in the subsequent history of both.
The Advent of Realism
 Even asJames O‟Neill was achieving his
 great popular success in Monte Cristo,
 other theories and beliefs were
 undermining the absolutist moral values
 on which melodrama depended.
The Advent of Realism
 Inthe nineteenth century, a number of
 intellectual and scientific developments
 called many biblical passages into question.
 The greatest controversy was provoked
 by Charles Darwin‟s The Origin of
The Advent of Realism
•   Darwin‟s theories have many
    First, suggest that heredity and
     environment are the primary
     causes of everything human
     beings are or do.
    Second – people cannot be held
     fully responsible for what they do
     (because of no control over
     individual heredity and little
     control over the environment ).
    Third, strengthen the idea of
The Advent of Realism
 These implications were crucial in the
 development of the modern
 temperament, because they suggested
 that change is the norm.
The Advent of Realism
 The new  ideas about human conscience
 were stated most fully in the writings of
 Sigmund Freud. Freud argued that the
 basic human instincts are aggression and
 sexuality – self-preservation and
The Advent of Realism
 According to  his view, then, not only are
 moral values relative, but also language
 and behavior are only partially reliable
 indicators of a person‟s state of mind and
The Advent of Realism
           eventually affected every area of
 Relativity
 thought and action. It eventually entered
 the theatre through realism and
 naturalism, even though these movements
 were seeking objective, scientific
 explanations of human behavior.
Realism and Naturalism
 Realism was  first recognized during the
  1850s, naturalism (a more extreme
  version of realism) during the 1870s.
 The views of realists and naturalists were
  grounded in the scientific outlook: the
  need to understand human behavior in
  terms of natural cause and effect.
Realism and Naturalism
 The realissue for realists and natuaralists
 was the role of art in society:
 ◦ Should art, as in melodrama, always show
   good triumphant?
 ◦ Should art reaffirm traditional values even
   though they have not triumphed in this
 Or should art, as the realists and naturalists
   argued, follow truth wherever it leads?
Realism and Naturalism
 These issues   were brought into focus
  about 1880 by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906),
  a Norwegian playwright often called the
  founder of modern drama.
 His plays stirred worldwide controversy
  because the endings did not reaffirm
  accepted values.
A Doll‟s House
 Ina Doll‟s House (1879), Nora Helmer is
 faced with the consequences of having
 forged her father‟s name to borrow the
 money needed to restore her husband‟s
 (Torvald) health (although by law she
 couldn‟t do it without her husband‟s
A Doll‟s House
 After her husband recovers, the man from
 whom Nora borrowed the money
 (Krogstad) threatens to expose her as a
 criminal if she does not help him keep the
 job he is about to lose at Torvald‟s bank.
A Doll‟s House
 Nora wishes to   consider, free from the
  emotional blackmail of home and children,
  what it means to be a woman in a society
  that deprives her of all rights.
 The outrage also stemmed from Ibsen‟s
  refusal to allow the audience the escape
  that Torvald had sought – the pretense,
  following a moment‟s anxiety, that the old
  social order was secure.
A Doll‟s House
 Mrs. Linde  and Krogstad serve as
  contrasts to Nora and Torvald.
 Nora, as she herself eventually realizes,
  has spent her life being treated like a doll,
  protected from harsh realities but having
  learned to manipulate men by feeding
  their fantasies about female helplessness.
A Doll‟s House
 Another major   character, Dr. Rank, also
 serves as a contrast to Torvald. Nora can
 talk freely and share confidences with
 Rank about things that Torvald would find
A Doll‟s House
A   Doll‟s House can serve as a model of
  cause-to-effect dramatic construction.
 A Doll‟s House uses a single setting
 Characters seem to live in the settings.
  Action, character, and environment are
Zola and Naturalism
 Naturalism, unlike   realism, had little
  success in the theatre, probably because it
  was too extreme in its demands.
 It‟s chief advocate was Emile Zola (1840-
 One of his followers suggested to take
  naturalistic plays as slice of life – a
  segment of reality transferred to the
Zola and Naturalism
 Zola, who often compared naturalistic art
 with medicine, believed that, just as the
 medical pathologist seeks to discover the
 cause of a disease so it can be treated, the
 dramatist should expose social ills so
 their causes can be corrected.
Zola and Naturalism
                  and naturalism struck
 Together, realism
 major blows against rigid social codes and
 absolute values.They laid the foundations
 on which modernists built.
The Emergence of the Director
 The present-day director  who assumes
 responsibility for interpreting all of the
 elements that make up a production, is
 primarily a product of the late nineteenth
The Emergence of the Director
 A convergence of the modern director,
  One of these developments involved the
  growing need for someone to coordinate
  and unify all the elements of production.
The Emergence of the Director
  The acceptance of the modern director
   owes most to two influences: the theory of
   Wagner and the practice of Saxe-Meiningen.
  Wagner erected a new kind of theatre
   building, opened at Bayreuth in 1876.
  Georg II, duke of Saxe-Meiningen(1826-
   1914) is now usually considered the first
   director in the modern sense. He extered
   complete control over every aspect of
The Emergence of the Director
  The Meiningen Company validated   many
  of Wagner‟s views, and the need for
  unified production soon became a
  fundamental tenet of theatrical
The Independent Theatre
 By the 1880s, innovative plays by realists
  and naturalists had appeared, but
  censorship had kept most of them from
 The new drama and the new staging had
  been remained isolated from each other.
  They were finally to meet in “independent”
The Independent Theatre
 The first independent theatre was the
  Theatre Libre, founded in Paris in 1887 by
  Andre Antoine.
 In 1889, the Freie Buhne was founded in
The Independent Theatre
 London‟s independent theatre‟s inaugural
 production of Ibsen‟s Ghosts, created
 enormous scandal that did much to call
 public attention to a new type of drama.
The Independent Theatre
 Another organizationthat emerged from
 the independent theatre movement- the
 Moscow Art Theatre- was to be of special
The Independent Theatre
 Founded in 1898 by Konstantin
 Stanislavsky and Vladimir Danchenko, it
 achieved its first major success with the
 plays of Anton Chekhov (1860-1904).
The Independent Theatre
 The Moscow Art Theatre   eventually made
 its greatest impact through Stanislavsky‟s
 system of acting, became the most
 pervasive influence on acting during the
 twentieth century.
 By the late nineteenth century, realism in
  the theatre was well established.
 Melodrama was grounded in the
  assumption that human beings innately
  know the difference between right and
  wrong, that moral behavior has little to
  do with environment, class, or wealth.
 Realism and  naturalism tended to view
  the world scientifically rather than
  morally and were based on the idea that
  forces of heredity and environment
  determines human behavior.
 A pathway was thereby opened for those
  ideas and practices that have come to be
  labeled “modernist.”