Photograph of the first production in Stockholm of August Strindberg's 1888 naturalistic play Miss Julie in November 1906, at The People's Theatre.
The PlayAll the isms you’ll ever need… and more!
What do we know?• We talked about Aristotle’s Poetics – Plot – Character – Thought/Theme – Diction/Language – Music – Spectacle• We talked about Genres• We talked about audiences and critics and theories
What do we still need to know?• It’s important to think about the context of the play – what were the trends in playwriting through history? How about at the time the play was written? What are the rules it’s following? What are the rules it’s breaking?
Two Types of Plot Structures Example: Sherlock Holmes• Climactic/Well-Made Play – Late point of attack (which means, in terms of the WHOLE STORY, the PLOT begins fairly close to the climax – we don’t start at the birth of the character, we start at the main action) – Distinct cause and effect structure with everything building logically to a climax – Fewer longer scenes covering a shorter period of time – Defined by Eugene Scribe in 1811 – Sometimes seen as a “masculine” form• Episodic – Could be an earlier point of attack – May not proceed in linear time Example: Crash – Some scenes even seem to stand on their own – May cover a longer period of time – More shorter scenes – More “feminine” plot structure
Sanskrit Drama• Not concerned about building to a climax, but to induce the appropriate rasa (tone, mood or flavor)
Classical• Greeks – I think we’ve pretty much covered the Greeks…• Romans – Borrowed play ideas from Greeks, but plays were losing popularity – Paratheatricals: gladiators, naumachiae, chariot races, bear baiting – Mime (wild performances that included graphic sex and violence… but also some of the first women on stage)
Roman Playwrights• Seneca – Tragedy – His plays were extremely bloody, and Romans had no problem with tossing a prisoner or a slave on stage and killing them for real• Plautus – Comedy – His plays were like Menander’s – about domestic, daily topics – Very popular with the audiences• Terence – Comedy – His plays tended to include lessons about how to live a good life – Tended to be more refined and popular with the upper classes “Plautus for the masses, Terence for the classes”
Medieval• Hroswitha (c. 950) – Benedictine Nun – Wrote plays based on Terence’s work • Saw Terence as impure • Praised the sobriety and chastity of women – First known post-Roman playwright – First known female playwright – Plays probably not done, but can’t say for sure.
Medieval• Liturgical drama – Quem Quaeritis: earliest known example of dialogue and stage directions as part of the liturgy: “Whom do you seek?” – Performed as part of the mass to help commoners understand the Bible stories (since they didn’t speak Latin – Grew more and more elaborate and were eventually forced to move out into the town square
Medieval• Non-Liturgical Drama – Grew out of liturgical drama, but was performed outside the church – In the vernacular (the language of the people) rather than Latin – Performers were not churchmen – Cycle plays told complete sets of Bible stories – The plays were performed in front of backdrops called “Mansions” on stages or floors called “Plateas” – The plays were sometimes performed on moving platforms called pageant wagons
Medieval• Mystery Plays: Stories from the Bible and life of Christ• Miracle Plays: Stories from the lives of saints and Christian miracles• Morality Plays: Allegorical tales about how to get to heaven, live a good life, stay out of trouble, keep from temptation, etc.
Sidebar: Everyman• Everyman: the prime example of the Morality play• Characters were named after traits or qualities (“Everyman”, “Good Deeds”, “Vice”) rather than people• In Everyman our hero learns: – “Fellowship”, “Kindred”, and “Cousin” will not accompany him to the grave. – “Good Deeds” will go along, but first he must do penance, as advised by “Knowledge” – Then “Doctor” (a learned man) comes in to explain everything Version 1 Click on the links to watch! Version 2
Sanskrit• Sakuntala by Kalidasa• Largely episodic and improvisational• 200-800 CE: Golden age of Sanskrit theatre
Kabuki• Began in early 17th century• The kanjis that make up Kabuki mean sing, dance and skill• Started out performed by women (many of whom were also prostitutes) – Mid 17th century – transition to being performed only by men – onnagata• Kyogen - comic interludes• Still performed as it was hundreds of years ago• In performances today, there is historical audience participation in which audience members stand up and shout out the name of legendary kabuki performers, comparing the contemporary performers to the greats
Nōh• 14th century classical Japanese theatre• Evolved out of popular and folk drama• Influenced by Zen Buddhism• Zeami Motokiyo – son in a father/son team that established the rules for Nōh theatre• Also includes kyogen interludes
Bunraku• Japanese Puppet theatre• Founded late 17th century• Large puppets designed and built by master craftsmen and puppeteers
Beijing Opera• Began during the 14th Century – Yuan Dynasty• Based on novels and stories• Multiple acts, prominent songs
African Theatre• Largely ceremonial and improvised, unlike its more traditionally scripted Western counterpart
Golden Age of Spain (Siglo d’oro)• c. 1580-1680• Autos sacramentales – Religious/morality plays – Calderon de la Barca (La Vida es Sueño)• Capa y espada – Cloak and sword – Lope de Vega (Fuente Ovejuna)• Loas and entremeses – Short pieces before or between acts
Elizabethan• By about 1560, religion and current politics were forbidden subjects for theatre to present on stage across Western Europe – Protestant split from Catholic church had made theatre a battle ground for each side – Morality plays about evils of Catholicism/Protestantism• Elizabeth I takes the throne in 1558 (held till her death in 1603)
Can’t Forget ol’ Billy!• William Shakespeare – April 23, 1564-April 23, 1616 – Actor and writer – Wrote in Iambic Pentameter • 10 syllables per line • Blank verse (the lines don’t rhyme • Tragedy • Comedy • History
Restoration Theatre (1660-1750)• England, 1660• The plays were sort of neoclassical, but they weren’t as concerned about the rules as the French• Comedy of manners• Audiences were smaller and less diverse… mostly just the rich folks – Some of the richest folks sat on stage so they could be seen
Restoration Women• First time women were allowed on stage – There were a lot of rape scenes (oh-so-dramatic) – They also created breeches roles (roles in which women dressed as young boys) – Nell Gwynne a very famous early actress• Aphra Behn was the first professional female playwright – The Rover
Ooh, la la!• Louis XIII (r 1610-1643) and Cardinal Richelieu (like Batman and Robin… only French) – Goal of making France the cultural center of the world – Established the Academie Française to make the decisions about all things regarding French art and culture
Who loves Italy? France!• Richelieu was bringing Italian designers over to France to give them all their fancy new design innovations• In 1548, they built the Hotel de Bourgogne – the 1st permanent theatre in Europe since Roman times• In 1629 a group of actors was assembled to perform there – they were the 1st professional theatre company in Paris
But wait, there’s more…• Enter Louis Quatorze (XIV) (r 1643-1715) and Cardinal Mazarin (another dynamic duo) – “L’etat c’est moi” (Louis centered all the power of France around himself• Louis believed that supporting and subsidizing theatre shows erudition, taste, and power• Established the Comédie Francais – which is still performing today
Sidebar: The Neoclassical Ideal In the 16 th• Verisimilitude – the appearance of truth century, Europe• Three Unities rediscovered classical theatre – Time: action takes place in 24 hours – like Aristotle’s – Place: action takes place in one location Poetics. The Academie – Action: the plot concerns only one main arc of Francais decided action that was the only• Decorum: characters behave way to make appropriately according to their station theatre. They set up a very rigid in life: kings are honorable and servants are set of rules. sneaky• Purity of Form: tragedy is tragedy and comedy is comedy and they should never mix• Dulce et Utilo: theatre should be used to teach and to please – to instruct and to entertain
The Big ThreeThree of the mostimportant Neoclassicalplaywrights• Corneille (1606-84) – Le Cid• Racine (1639 - 99) – Phaedra• Molière (1622 - 73) – Tartuffe
The Neoclassical IdealThe Time: 1636The Place: FranceThe Play: Le CidThe Writer: PierreCorneilleThe Big Deal: Corneilleadapted the play from anepic Spanish tale that didnot fit into the NeoclassicalIdeal – the AcademieFrancais was outraged!
Le Cid Here’s the plot… you decide if it fits the Neoclassical Ideal!• Ximena and Rodrigo are given permission by their fathers to marry.• The princess is in love with Rodrigo, but his status is too low, so she gave him to Ximena and just whines about it… a lot.• Ximena & Rodrigo’s dads were both up for being the prince’s tutor. Rodrigo’s dad gets the job, Ximena’s dad insults him and slaps him. The king asks Ximena’s father to apologize. He won’t.• Rodrigo’s dad asks Rodrigo to avenge his honor.• Rodrigo fights and kills Ximena’s father.• Ximena demands Rodrigo’s death (but, of course, she still loves him). He offers her the chance to kill him, she doesn’t.
Le Cid – continued• Rodrigo leads the army to conquer the Moors who are invading – gaining the favor of the king. (PS – now that he’s a war hero, the princess could marry him, but she decides to honor Ximena’s claim… and whines about it… a lot.)• The king tells Ximena that Rodrigo died in the battle to test her reaction. But… surprise! He’s not dead!• Ximena’s angry… demands his death. The best anyone will do is a duel. Ximena agrees to marry whoever wins the duel.• Of course, Rodrigo wins (not before another death scare) and she consents to marry him.• It’s been one long day!
How’d he do?• Verisimilitude: it’s not believable that all of this happened in one day• Three Unities – Time: he did reset events that originally happened over 11 years into one day – Place: the action does take place in one town – stretching this a bit – Action: there are too many subplots• Decorum: The princess is appropriate for not marrying beneath her station, Ximena is inappropriate for agreeing to marry the man who killed her father, and Rodrigo is not appropriately punished• Purity of Form: there are some comic elements interspersed• Dulce et Utilo: there are lessons involved, and it was considered very entertaining by most audiences
Jean Racine• Strict Catholic upbringing (even by French standards) – Emphasis on Guilt and Sin in his plays• Wrote one comedy, based on a play by Aristophanes, all the rest of his plays were tragedies• His most famous play was Phaedra… let’s see how he stacks up on the Neoclassical Ideal
Phaedra• Phaedra is married to Theseus, but is in love with her stepson, Hippolytus (who is in love with Aricia)• News! Theseus is dead, and Phaedra confesses her love to Hippolytus and asks him to kill her.• News! Theseus is not dead. Phaedra’s nurse has the great idea to accuse Hippolytus of coming on to Phaedra.• Theseus asks Neptune to strike down his son, which he does.• It’s a tragedy, so someone is going to die: – Hippolytus dragged into the sea by Neptune (offstage) – Nurse drowns herself out of shame and guilt – Phaedra kills herself (same reason)
The Neo-Classic Scorecard: Phaedra• Verisimilitude and Reasonableness? As good as we can get with Neptune in the story!• 3 Unities? Yes!• Decorum? Yes!• Purity of Form? Yes!• Appropriate Ending? Tragedy = Death!
The Neo-Classic Scorecard: Phaedra• Verisimilitude and Reasonableness? As good as we can get with Neptune in the story!• 3 Unities? Yes!• Decorum? Yes!• Purity of Form? Yes!• Appropriate Ending? Tragedy = Death!• Dulce et Utilo? Yes!
The Great Comedian: Molière• Born Jean-Baptise Poquelin: Moliere was his stage name• Genius of French Comedy• By 1660 he was head of a theatre company, lead actor, and manager.• Favorite of Louis XIV• Comedies draw from Roman comedy, Commedia dell’Arte and French farce• Famous for sparkling, witty dialogue and great plots• Wrote Tartuffe, The Imaginary Invalid, The Miser
Tell me about Tartuffe• Orgon - head of a middle-class house - has fallen under the spell of a con man – Tartuffe who pretends to be a pious man• Wife, Brother, Son, Daughter all see through Tartuffe, but Orgon can’t• Son overhears Tartuffe trying to seduce Orgon’s wife (his mother), and accuses him publicly. Orgon throws his son out of the house, writes him out of the will.• Wife arranges for Orgon to overhear Tartuffe attempt to sleep with her• The secret is out, but Tartuffe has the upper hand because Orgon has been such a fool.• At the last moment, a messenger arrives from the Click on the photo to see King to arrest Tartuffe. The King knows all about it, a preview for a and true justice is served. production of Tartuffe
The Neo-Classic Scorecard: Tartuffe• Verisimilitude and Reasonableness? Absolutely• 3 Unities? Yes!• Decorum? Yes!• Purity of Form? Yes!• Five Act Form? You bet!• Appropriate Ending? Comedy = Mockery!• Dulce et Utilo? Yes!
Molière: Going out with Style• Molière played the lead role in his play, The Imaginary Invalid: a hypochondriac who is always acting sickly• During one performance he fell ill and died later that night• At first he was denied a Christian burial, but Louis XIV interceded on his behalf and he received the appropriate burial
Sentimentalism• Post Neoclassicism• Everybody is basically good – Evil a result of corruption - People are perfectible• Acting becomes more conservative• Lines of Business – Lead – Heavy – Walking Gentleman/woman
Romanticism• Victor Hugo’s play Hernani helped to launch Romanticism in France, rejecting the rigid rules of Neoclassicism
German Romanticism• Sturm und Drang (storm and stress)• They were rejecting the rules of Neoclassicism too• Johann Wolfgang Goethe was a key figure in Sturm und Drang, as well as a later return to classical inspiration with Weimar Classicism (you’ll notice that artistic trends tend to bounce back and forth – One of his most important If the Germans love one thing, it’s plays is Faust David Hasselhof. If they love two things, it’s David Hasselhof and William Shakespeare
English Romanticism• England’s Romanticism wasn’t strong in playwriting• Acting, poetry and novels was where it was really at – Garrick – Shelly, Byron – Mary Shelly: Frankenstein• Romanticism: – Knocked down Neoclassicism – Created the image of the tortured young artist – Set the stage for future change
Realism• Answered a call for “Seriousness”• Introduced the idea of the BOX SET – basically they would build a set that was like a box – a room with all four sides – only one wall was lifted off so the audience could watch the action• Plays examined real-life issues of people – Urban Poverty/Crime – Unemployment – Social Darwinism• Henrik Ibsen – “father of realism” – Norwegian playwright: A Doll’s House, Ghosts• Anton Chehov – Russian playwright: Seagull, The Three Sisters
Naturalism• Realism is for sissies! Naturalism is a much more extreme version of realism. An earlyproduction of theNaturalistic classic Miss Julie
Naturalism’s Influences• Emile Zola – depict social ills so that they may be corrected – plays should show “slices of life”• Interest in the lot of the working classes and the rights of the common people – MAIN FOCUS of the naturalist movement• August Strindberg – Swedish playwright: Miss Julie• Konstantin Stanislavski at the Moscow Art Theatre helped shape Realistic/Naturalistic acting – we’ll talk A LOT more about him later
Avant-Gardism 1890 - 1960• Impressionism – capture fleeting moments of awareness that were believed to constitute the essence of existence.
Symbolism• Growing out of Freud’s ideas of the unconscious mind• 1885• Symbols to approximate truth• Plays often set in the past or in fantasy lands
Expressionism• Focused on political and social question in a stage world close to nightmare. Plays unfolded in a world of bizarre and garish colors, jagged angles and oddly proportioned objects – ‘allegory clothed in nightmare’• Largely message centered with exaggerated or stereotyped characters• German Expressionism: Bertolt Brecht – but we’ll talk more about him later
Dada & Futurism Filippo Tommaso Emilio Tristan Tzara Marinetti Swiss artist and thinker whowrote the Dada manifestos. It was basically a loose anti-art Marinetti and the futuristsmovement intended to ridicule believed in technology, speedthe modern world, which they and violence. They celebrated saw as meaningless. Their progress and all things new.performances and poems were Anyone over about 30 years old extremely free-form, not had nothing to offer them. concerned with aesthetics. Their plays (called syntesi) were They wanted to offend and extremely short and abstract.criticize. The movement didn’t last long (1916-1922).
Absurdism• Looking at a world that could produce the Holocaust and the nuclear bomb, playwrights couldn’t find any meaning – the world seemed absurd• Samuel Beckett – Irish playwright: Waiting for Godot, Endgame
Postmodernism• Post WWII• Reaction to Modernism• Breaks down barriers between art forms• Narrative is less important• Loss of belief in objectivity, truth & meaning• Bottom-up participation• Impossibility of communication, meaninglessness of words• Parody, satire, irony, self-reference and wit• Attractive to feminist, LGBT and other marginalized artists
Postmodernism has been particularly noteworthy in architectureThe Gugenheim
Postmodern Tools• Eclecticism – disparate and conflicting elements• Parody – referencing and mocking well-known cultural figures, behaviors or stories• Irony – the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning• Allegory – representation of abstract ideas through concrete forms• Schlock/Kitsch – playing with the excess of knick-knacks and useless doo-dads of modern life• Camp – playing up intentional ridiculousness• Simulacrum – the idea that mass production is so overdone these days, that there is no way of knowing something authentic when we see it• Media – playing with the overflow of forms of media available to us – postmodernism often uses different forms of media together• Self-reflexive – postmodernism tends to reference itself or be very aware of its own message and even its own ridiculousness
Postmodern People• Harold Pinter – The Homecoming, Betrayal• David Mamet – Bobby Gould in Hell, Oleanna• Heiner Müller - Hamletmachine• Ntozake Shange – For colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf• Caryl Churchill – Top Girls, Fen, Cloud 9• Robert Wilson – Einstein on the Beach• Elizabeth LeCompte – The Wooster Group (check out the next few slides for some images of her work)
The Wooster Group Sakonnet Pointwww.thewoostergorup.org Rumstick Road
The Wooster GroupBrace Up! Who’s Your Dada? www.thewoostergorup.org
The Wooster Group Route 1 & 9www.thewoostergorup.org The Emperor Jones
The Wooster GroupNayatt School Hamlet www.thewoostergorup.org