January 10, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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Some Century Theatre Innovations

Many innovators of modern drama were too confronting and different to be accepted and understood in their own life time This was certainly the case with people such as Brecht, Artaud and others Their ideas have now been accepted and allowed to influence many directors, designers and actors

Theatre Styles Theatre of Cruelty Poor Theatre Theatre of the Absurd

Theatre of Cruelty Antonin Artaud French 1895 – 1948 He was writing at the same time as Brecht was writing his Epic, political plays

Artaud used the term “Theatre of Cruelty” to define the style of work he believed was needed to revitalise the theatre His theories were based around utilising a physical theatre language He believed text provided nothing more than a starting point

Sound, space, movement, light, spectacle and non verbally based acting would combine, in Artaud’s view, to excite, shock and enthral audiences, forcing them to confront the inner, primal self

Artaud proclaimed that theatre should return to its primitive roots and aim to provide an experience of communal ritual Artaud was interested in exploring the human mind

Artaud was a surrealist in the 1920’s He believed many dark secrets were hidden deep inside our minds (subconscious) that we are not aware of, that caused us to do the things we did Artaud was deeply influenced by the Surrealist movement even when he left the movement

Surrealism – Salvador Dali Another member of the Surrelist movement was Salvador Dali He was famous for his dream paintings filled with objects

Salvador Dali’s paintings

Artaud belived that theatre should force people to confront and heal their inner selves or they will become negative and destructive He disapproved of the typical plays that dealt with social problems or individuals

Unlike Brecht who wanted to brainwash his audience with strong messages, Artaud thought that was a waste of time Theatre needed to be more primitive and instinctive if it was to really touch people and change them He used the term “Theatre of Cruelty” because he was forcing the audience to face itself. He was being ‘cruel to be kind’

Rituals and symbols were seen as powerful The aim of Theatre of Cruelty was to crahs through the shell of bourgeois civilisation and its cultural restrictions and to get to a deeper, more spiritual plane His quest was as much socially motivated as artistically

Theatre Spaces Artaud felt that plays should be taken out of the traditional theatre building which he rejected as being too formal He preferred large spaces such as warehouses The audience intermingled with the actors No scenery except for symbols

Lighting was to be fast and exciting Sound was also important Artaud believed that the audience could be ‘assaulted’ with a fast paced light/sound/human show He believed the audiences’ inner selves would be released and be confronted and healed

Although Artaud’s aims might seem far fetched, his ideas can be adapted into contemporary preformances These days many people use drama in Artaud’s way to heal from psychological pain and this is called psychodrama

Artaud suffered mental and emotional breakdowns This perhaps explains why he was interested in this area of drama After he died his published works inspired many dramatists In 1963 the Theatre of Cruelty was formed and Artaud’s ideas were materialised and toured

The Theatre and Its Double Artaud’s book, “The Theatre and Its Double” was originally released in 1933 It was not really influential until after his death Practioners such as Julian Beck and Judith Malina, founders of America’s Living Theatre, Joseph Chaikin and his Open Theatre, English director Peter Brook and Jerzy Grotowski, founder of the Polish Laboratory theatre, were all influenced by “The Theatre and Its Double”

Although this was not a theatre style based on text it still inspired several works in the written form The most important of these written plays was the Peter Weiss’ play “Marat/Sade”

Poor Theatre Jerzy Grotowski Born in Poland 1933 His ideas about acting and theatre have conrtibuted greatly in that they reclaimed the essential importance and role of the actor

Grotowski reminded people that one did not need expensive sets, lighting and costumes His theatre was actor based Hence his theatre was called “Poor Theatre”

When all stage elements are removed, only the essentials are left – actors and audience The relationship between actor and audience is a powerful one which Grotowski studied closely as part of his ‘laboratory’

Great demands are made on actors in Poor Theatre They are the centre of attention, the key Effective actors must work on themselves until they can give of themselves fully Grotowski worked intensely with his actors as he recognised that all individuals are unique

“Towards a Poor Theatre” Grotowski’s book “Towards a Poor Theatre” included many of the exercises that he used to free up his actors Some of his techniques included silence/inner meditation, physical endurance and training in emotional memory*

*Emotional memory is reliving an event to recreate the emotion.

Theatre Spaces Plays were staged in diverse settings Ordinary rooms to warehouses Like Artaud he saw no need to separate the audience and the actors He wanted to create a dynamic audience relationship

Grotowski believed the power of the actor should be so strong that he/she could transform anything around him through the power of his/her belief In other words the floor could become the sea or a boat, etc

Grotowski’s influence came at the best possible time for it seemed to re-invent drama and the theatre t a time when dramatists had to compete with films, videos and television. The only plays at the time seemed to be lavish, expensive musicals Gortowski showed us that even a vulnerable lone actor with no props can have as much impact as any blockbuster film

Theatre of the Absurd Absurdism was a movement based on the ideas of Existentialism Existentialism was first developed by Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus They were both French According to existentialists, life is meaningless – just a series of acts nothing

Jean-Paul Sartre

Albert Camus

Absurdist theatre rose to prominence in the 1950’s Its precursors can probably be found in the works of earlier playwrights like Kafka, Jarry and Pirandello




Famous Absurdist Playwrights

Eugene Ionesco Samuel Beckett Jean Genet

Eugene Ionesco 1912 - 1994

Ionesco’s Plays Rhinoceros The Bald Soprano The Chairs

Samuel Beckett 1906 - 1989

His plays Waiting For Godot Endgame Krapp’s Last Tape

Jean Genet 1910 - 1986

His Plays The Maids The Balcony The Blacks

Absurdist Plays Absurdist plays highlight the meaningless or absurdity of life and often feature an underlying despair The fundamental belief expressed in absurdist works is that humankind is lost in a godless universe, where their actions and behaviour become absurd and useless

The illogical and the irrational are at the heart of most absurdist drama Characters tend to be archetypal Language is irrelevant in the sense that it fails to convey meaning Time and place have no real relevance either

Despite this grim outlook, Absurdist Theatre is essentially comic in nature Humankind is deluded in its belief that it is at the centre of the universe This is seen as a ridiculous proposal which warrants nothing more than laughter and derision

Features of Absurdist Plays Features may include: Non-reality No sense of time/place Unusual characters Absurd happenings Chaos Simple/minimal sets Meaningless dialogue/word games Repetition highlighting futility Humour

Some people find Absurdist plays hard to understand and cope with, however the movement produced some very impressive plays which are still staged regularly today

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