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Victorian Melodrama


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Powerpoint introduction to Victorian Melodrama as an artform and dramatic style. Includes examples, fashions, language.

Published in: Education, Business

Victorian Melodrama

  1. 1. Victorian Melodrama
  2. 2. Historical Context  The Industrial Revolution − 1800's − Shift from Rural to Urban living. − Scientific discoveries led to machines. − Some people became extremely rich, but most ended up very poor.
  3. 3. Living Conditions and Consequences  Terrible overcrowding  Disease  Alcoholism  Helpless in the face of the rich
  4. 4. Current Event!
  5. 5. What does Melodrama mean?  A drama characterized by exaggerated emotions, stereotypical characters, and interpersonal conflicts. − Melo - “Music” − Drama - “Drama”  Only two Theatres in London allowed to present dramas. − Covent Garden, Drury Lane  Licensed by the king.  Other Theatres were required to have musical intervals. − Popular romantic dramas known as Melo-dramas.  Included songs during the performances and between scenes and at interval.  Romaticism − Emotional theatre.
  6. 6. History of Melodrama  Became a Theatrical form in about 1800.  René Charles Guilbert de Pixerécourt − La Femme a deux maris  First English play to be called a Melodrama − A Tale of Mystery (1802) by Thomas Holcroft  Reaction to immorality of Restoration plays.
  7. 7. Features of Melodrama Exaggerated and stylised movement and extended vocal technique expressing extreme emotions and sentimentality Based on the large size of the theatres of the time and the exaggerated characteristics/ behaviours of the characters Stereotyped characters Usually one dimensional, they do not change psychologically or morally Good vs Evil: moral struggle The human struggle between pure good (usually poor and downtrodden) vs pure evil (usually the rich, greedy or powerful). There is strict observance of poetic justice – good always rewarded and evil always punished. Audience interaction (breaking the 4th wall) Maximum sense of empowerment. The people in the audience may be helpless at home but they can beat the bad guys at the show. Spectacular events e.g. Chases, explosions, battles, fights, fierce arguments, sea voyages, supernatural events. These helped people to forget their own troubles for a while.
  8. 8. Fast paced dramatic plots Exciting story, suspense, plot twists (discoveries, hairbreadth escapes, secret passages, hiding places, disguises) Audience response Very basic emotional appeals involve “ arousal of pity and indignation at the wrongful oppression of good people and intense dislike for wicked oppressors” Exotic locations Exotic/far away or ugly/desperate or lush/beautiful – never ordinary
  9. 9. Melodrama's Stock Characters 1. Hero: Handsome, strong, brave, honest and reliable. Status: Middle Class or Higher 2. Heroine: Beautiful, courageous, innocent and vulnerable. Status: Middle Class or Higher 3. Villain: Cunning, without morals, dishonest, cruel and evil. Status: Middle Class or Higher 4. Villain's Accomplice: Comic relief, bumbling sidekick. Status: Lower Class 5. Faithful servant: Also provides comic relief, does dirty work. Usually discovers evidence against the villain. Status: Lower Class 6. Maid servant: Female character who is lively and flirts with the faithful servant. Status: Lower Class
  10. 10. Staging, Technology  Proscenium Arch  Machinery available for complicated sets − Fly towers & Counterweight − Treadmills − Electric lighting  “Sensation” melodramas − Disaster's happened on stage − The Poor of New York – Dion Boucicault  Real fire engines put out a real fire.