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PowerPoint Presentation Modern Realism

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					Modern Realism

  Arthur Miller‟s
   All My Sons
    Origins of Modern Drama: Ibsen
   Henrik Ibsen, Norway, 1828-1906
   GB Shaw said “The door slam at the end of [Ibsen‟s] A
    Doll‟s House ushered in the age of Modernism”
   Christmas, 1879; about gender roles and legal
    restrictions; ends in Nora walking out on her family.
   Social problems depicted “realistically” - no easy
    solutions or deus ex macchina
   Well-made play, intensive structure
   Middle classes, everyday diction
   Focus on individuals, but in their social environment
   Rights of individual over group, religion, morality
    Other theatrical factors
   Pictorial realism of setting
   Box set and real objects on stage, used by actors.
   Rise of designers, recently costumers, by early 20th
    c. lighting designers
   Rise of the director -- to provide unity of vision
    based in the text
   Ensemble acting and fourth wall
   Stanislavsky‟s work to train actors, early 20th c.
   Ibsen‟s plays are banned by censors across Europe
André Antoine, Théâtre Libre, 1887
     American Realism -- Miller
   From 1930‟s; Group Theatre adopts Stanislavsky and
    Method; writer Clifford Odetts
   Arthur Miller, 1915-2005
   NYC, Jewish, U Michigan Journalism to English, grad
    „38, chooses playwriting over Hollywood, works
    Federal Theatre Project NYC
   All My Sons, 1947, his first major work, wins Drama
    Critics‟ Circle Award
   Death of A Salesman, 1949, wins Pulitzer, Tony,
    Drama Critics, Theatre Club…
   The Crucible, View from the Bridge, After the Fall,
    Incident at Vichy, Price
   Subpoenaed by HUAC, refused to name names
    All My Sons
 Based on true story from WWII, parts for tanks
  were shipped in spite of known defects, the man
  was convicted.
 Set Aug 1947, the cracked cylinder heads and
  Larry‟s death were in 1944.
 Parallel plots: Chris and Ann‟s hoped for
  marriage; Joe‟s innocence or guilt, dishonesty
 Tight, intensive structure; 1 setting 1 day; Ann
  incites action; rising action as we figure out
  Joe‟s guilt, Kate‟s complicity, Chris‟s idealism
  is smashed, Ann reveals the letter. Climax.
Themes
 Responsibility: to family vs. society. Title.
 Honor: war vs. business or Chris vs. Joe
 Idealism: must all stars go out?
 Materialism masks real value
 Each character represents a different take on
  these themes.
     Characterization
   Each given three dimensions, depth
   Joe is similar to the tragic hero: essentially good
    (dedicated to family, runs business, cares for
    neighborhood, sees own limits), but “hamartia” (tragic
    flaw) is blindness to value of the larger “human
    family” -- that title again: “all my sons.”
   Background stories that justify ethical positions
   Kellers and Deevers‟ stories interwoven
   Use of realistic detail: the grape juice, clothing, tree
   Supernatural: Frank and Kate, proven wrong. A form
    of “ability to lie to oneself.”
     “Tragedy and the Common Man”
   Miller‟s article for NY Times, 1949
   “I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for
    tragedy in its higher sense as kings were.”
   “Tragedy, then, is the consequence of a man‟s total
    compulsion to evaluate himself justly.”
   “The [tragic] flaw… is really nothing… but his
    inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of
    what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity.”
   “The revolutionary questioning of a stable
    environment [social, external forces] is what terrifies.”
   It‟s ultimately optimistic because it implies a belief in
    the “perfectibility of man.”

				
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