Theatre styles


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A great overview of theatre styles citing origins, pictures, key characteristics and aims of style. Lot of work but worth it. Don't claim it as your own or you're dead meat!!

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Theatre styles

  1. 1. Theatre Styles<br />1<br />
  2. 2. Contents<br />Classical<br />Commedia dell’Arte<br />Theatre of Cruelty<br />Symbolism<br />Naturalism<br />Realism<br />Expressionism<br />Absurdism<br />Modernism<br />Postmodernism<br />Physical<br />Verbatim <br />2<br />
  3. 3. Classical<br />origins lie with the Greek theatre, through to Roman, Medieval, Elizabethan, Jacobean, Restoration<br />first use of mask and chorus<br />themes reflect period of the play<br />relies upon imagination (limited props) to convey setting/atmosphere of play.<br />actors must physically/vocally train their body to needs of larger theatres<br />key characteristics: heightened language, using verse and prose<br />larger movement to fill bigger theatres<br />aim: hear a play, enjoy language, wit and humour, moralistic<br />3<br />
  4. 4. Commedia dell’Arte<br />originated in Italy in the 1560s <br />neither professional nor open to the public. Only required actors, no sets and very few props<br />key characteristics: plays came from scenarios<br />dialogue and comedic interludes were improvised<br />based around stock characters, the lovers, masters, and servants<br />no female performers<br />paid by taking a share of the play's profits equivalent to the size of role<br />at its peak from 1575–1650<br />aim: entertainment, comedy<br />improvisation today originates from Commedia<br />4<br />
  5. 5. Naturalism<br />originated: late 1800’s made famous by Stanislvaski<br />classic texts performed in realist settings. <br />plays that reflect real life<br />key characteristics uses natural forms of speech and physical expression<br />actor attempts complete identification with the role, understood in terms of its 'given circumstances'<br />aim: audience as onlooker through the ‘fourth wall’, see great acting in the re-creation of character<br />5<br />
  6. 6. Theatre of Cruelty<br />originated from surrealist movement in 1931 expressed by Antonin Artaud "Without an element of cruelty at the root of every spectacle, theatre is not possible.<br />key characteristics: dance and gesture can create deeper meaning than words<br />extreme emotions and actions result as a lack of control<br />plays are a release for dreams and hidden emotions<br />there are no limits to how theatre can stimulate an emotion or how to bring this about<br />aim: to be moved, shocked and involved in the performance <br />6<br />
  7. 7. Realism<br />originated from naturalism and superseded it<br />portrays characters on stage that are close to real life, with realistic settings /staging<br />direct attention to the physical and philosophic problems of social and psychological existence <br />key characteristics: victims of forces larger than themselves, individuals confronted with a rapidly accelerating world.<br />playwrights unafraid to present characters as ordinary, impotent and unable to reach answers to their predicaments.<br />aim: identify with plot/situations<br />7<br />
  8. 8. Symbolism<br />late nineteenth-century art movement of French & Belgian origin<br />a backlash to naturalism and realism<br />key characteristics: emphasis on internal life of dreams/fantasies/spirituality<br />highly metaphorical and suggestive<br />Eg: Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's drama Axël (rev. ed. 1890) is a definitive symbolist play. In it, two aristocrats fall in love while trying to kill each other, only to agree to mutually commit suicide because nothing in life could equal their fantasies <br />Chekhov’s later works identifiedas being influenced by symbolist pessimism<br />aim: audience to interpret imagery and ideas to their original absolute truth<br />8<br />
  9. 9. Expressionism<br />a cultural movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the start of the 20th century<br />anti-realistic in seeing truth lying within man. The outward appearance on stage can be distorted and unrealistic to portray an eternal truth<br />dramatises spiritual awakening/sufferings of central character & the struggle against social class values/established authority<br />key characteristics: to present the world in an subjective perspective, distorting it for emotional effect, evoke moods/ideas<br />movement/speech is heightened, expansive, or clipped/telegraphic<br />aim: spectacle, illusion, experience<br />9<br />
  10. 10. Absurdism<br />originated in 1940’s – 60’s expresses belief that human existence has no meaning/purpose, therefore all communication breaks down<br />logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion: silence<br />Key characteristics: broad comedy, mixed with horrific/tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive/ meaningless actions<br />dialogue: clichés/wordplay/nonsense<br />plots: cyclical or absurdly expansive; either a parody or dismissal of realism and the "well-made play"<br />aim: createsubversive/anarchic view of society<br />10<br />
  11. 11. Modernism<br />originated in early 20th century sees art, including theatre, as detached from life in a pure way and able to reflect on life critically<br />includes the activities of those who felt the "traditional" forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organisation and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social, and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialised world<br />rejects the lingering certainty of Enlightenment thinking, and also that of the existence of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator<br />aim: audience to question the axioms of the previous age<br />11<br />
  12. 12. Postmodernism<br />superseded modernism: challenges accepted views of the world<br />includes use of multiple art /media forms <br />narrative broken, paradoxical and imagistic. <br />characters are fragmented, forming a collection of contrasting / parallel ideas from a central theme or traditional character.<br />each performance is a spectacle, with no intent on methodical repetition<br />audience integral to the shared meaning & making of the performance process<br />rehearsal process driven by shared improvisation, not scripted text<br />aim : encourages audience to reach own individual understanding.<br />12<br />
  13. 13. Physical<br />made prominant in the 20th Century with influences from classical and commedia<br />work often devised, rather than from a pre-existing script (an exception Shared Experience, who focus on making contemporary reinterpretations of highly literary plays including Ibsen’s A Doll's House and Tolstoy’s War and Peace)<br />has inter-disciplinary origins - crosses between music, dance, visual art as well as theatre<br />challenges the traditional, proscenium arch, performer/audience relationship.<br />celebrates the non-passive audience.<br />aim: combines the imagination of both the audience and the performer<br />13<br />
  14. 14. Verbatim<br />documentary theatre - 20th century<br />constructed from precise words spoken by people interviewed about an event/topic<br />not written in a traditional sense but conceived, collected and collated<br />recent example: Black Watch, a piece that integrated interviews taken from members of the Black Watch with dramatized versions of their stories and dance pieces.<br />recorded voice delivery is an extension of verbatim theatre: actors have recorded interviews played back to them during the performance, allowing mimicry of the accents /manner of speech/words of those they portray<br />aim: seek to achieve a degree of authority akin to that represented by the news. To give meaning/viewpoint to challenging situations<br />14<br />
  15. 15. Theatre Styles<br />15<br />
  16. 16. Quotes<br />Harold Clurman <br />The stage is life, music, beautiful girls, legs, breasts, not talk or intellectualism or dried-up academics.<br />Konstantine Stanislavski <br />Love art in yourself and not yourself in art.<br />Michael Shurtleff<br />An actor is looking for conflict. Conflict is what creates drama. We are taught to avoid trouble . Actors don't realize they must go looking for it. Plays are written about the extraordinary, the unusual, the climaxes. The more conflict actors find, the more interesting the performance.<br />Sandy's favourite from Goethe<br />I wish the stage were as narrow as a tight rope so that no incompetent would dare walk on it. <br />Sanford Meisner<br />Transfer the point of concentration to some object outside of yourself – another person, a puzzle, a broken plate that you are gluing.” Actors that had a focus on something other than themselves were completely different in their performance from those that were ‘self’ conscious or inwardly focused.  If you can do this - you have the most interesting, attention-holding thing of all,  a fascinating human being playing opposite you.  Let them be your focus and you’ll fly.<br />Sanford Meisner<br />The seed to the craft of acting is the reality of doing.<br />Sanford Meisner<br />Acting is not talking, it’s living off the other guy<br />Acting has nothing to do with talking, little in fact to do with words.  The bit of the ice berg that you CAN see is the words.  The rest of your acting is why lies beneath.<br />Sanford Meisner<br />An ounce of behaviour is worth a pound of words.<br />Oscar Wilde<br />I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.<br />Michael Shurtleff<br />Whatever you decide is your motivation in the scene, the opposite of that is also true and should be in the scene.<br />16<br />