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Theatre History II, Week One

by: Hannah Levine

Theatre History II, Week One THEA 24200

Marketplace > Ithaca College > Theatre > THEA 24200 > Theatre History II Week One
Hannah Levine
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About this Document

Notes from the first week of Dr. Dail's History of Theatre II
History of Theatre II
Dr. Chrystyna Dail
Class Notes
Theatre History




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah Levine on Wednesday January 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to THEA 24200 at Ithaca College taught by Dr. Chrystyna Dail in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 56 views. For similar materials see History of Theatre II in Theatre at Ithaca College.


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Date Created: 01/20/16
1.27.16 Catch-Up: Where Are We In 1800? Europe and North America: -Romanticism is prominent – came as artistic response to the need for more equitable society (esp. for lower classes) -Inspired largely by French Revolution and defeat of Napolean (oppressive governments that came with him as well as the strong nationalism that came in his wake) -Began in Germany, based on late 18 century philosophies -Relies on belief in higher state of truth beyond earthly existence -Idea that “Truth” can’t be observed or understood in our mortal lives -Fundamentals: belief in higher power (God/spirit/idea/ego, necessary since truth can’t be found in our lives), return to nature, human nature comprised of rivaling set of dualities, idealized the arts and philosophy (idea that artists and philosophers come closer than anyone else on Earth to discovering truth because they experience moments of pure creative bliss; inherently difficult to realize in theatre, so led mostly to closet dramas) -Prominent Authors: -The Twilight Men (from Germany) looked to Shakespeare as literary ideal -August Shlegel (1767-1845): formulated and disseminated Romantic theory (as a tutor) -Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853): coined “Twilight Men” in Kaiser Octavianus (1802) when he described twilight as the time of night when the“logic of daylight meets the mystery and magic of night” Latin America: -Indigenous and Imperialist -Romanticism (duh) in Imperialist theatre (theatre of the Western colonizers) -Spain had the most control over South America/Central America/Mexico -Zarzuela: short, light-hearted plays named after plays by Calderon (1600-1681), brought to Latin America by Spanish colonizers; usually pastoral, based on classical myths -Permanent theatres constructed in Mexico well before North America (1823-1844, plus five more during the 1850s) Cuba: -Most prolific theatrical creator of Caribbean islands/colonies – Spanish language theatre develops in 1730 (given that indigenous language was wiped out in 1500s) -Francisco Covarrubias (1755-1850), father of Cuban theatre, developed negrito character (which over time evolved to be either a character of radical empowerment/rebellion or essentially a caricature, as seen in minstrel shows, etc.) -Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (1814-1873): wrote primarily romantically (European family), incredibly prolific and easily one of the most successful female playwrights of the 19 century Africa: -Masquerade remained incredibly essential, even throughout European colonization -In the most important masquerades, spirits enter the human world; the human wearing the mask very literally embodies the spirit -Mostly performed by males (even with female spirits), but women are masquerade performers in some parts of Africa -Typically use music and movement (for spiritual worship, social control, entertainment, and play) -Specific masquerade traditions (characters and style) vary across African countries Asia: -Across the (admittedly massive) continent, 700-800 distinct theatrical genres have evolved over time -We divide Asia into South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka; Buddhism, Hinduism), East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan; simpler plotlines), Southeast Asia (Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand; very much recipients of performance styles from South and East Asia); Oceania (Pacific Island Nations; chants, nations, religious songs, etc.) -Ideological Theatre: typically created to support the educational/government needs of the ruling classes (i.e. Sanskrit, Noh, etc.) -Folk Theatre: religious, for the community, non-professional -Commercial Theatre: typically despised by ruling (ideological) classes (i.e. Bunraku and Kabuki) -Worth noting: theatre by the people often has a more lasting impact than theatre created by the government -Almost all indigenous forms of Asian theatre share several attributes: religious origins (necessary to respect gods in performance), training process (requires impressive physical proficiency and apprenticeship training in a specific role), puppetry, masquerade, dance th Melodrama: 1800-1880, (easily the most popular theatrical form of 19 century in Europe and the United States; might still be) -Enforces a value system to tell us who the good guys and bad guys are; not particularly nuanced -Emerged before Romanticism but wasn’t popular until post-Romanticism -Episodic; take place in three acts (the first two of which end in an [often literal] cliff-hanger) -In complete and utter violation of neo-Classicism, all events took place completely on stage (largely spectacle-driven) -Always a distinct villain and virtuous hero(ine); poetic justice must be served by the end -Two forms: providential (1800-1825) and materialist (1855-1880) -Providential, developed by Pixerecourt, believes in God; usually takes place in a universal or timeless (Romantic) setting; believes that people are essentially good and God will rescue people from their problems; becomes obsolete during the difficult 1830s -Materialist is the more popular form, developed by Dion Boucicault and based in reality; actual social problems come to the stage in urban, gritty settings; judicial system instead of God and focus on reform; very popular with middle class (more so than working class) 1.29.16 Problems with Melodrama -Shows virtue as incorruptible The Drunkard: problematic melodrama about drunkard and his wife; sensation scene involves horse jumping off a cliff; shows delirium tremens onstage -Weirdly specific steps of what will happen to you if you become an alcoholic (including smoking opium, murdering someone, and killing yourself) Most iconic image in melodrama: damsel in distress on train tracks (originally in Under the Gaslight) -It was originally a one-armed male veteran tied to the train tracks; sensation scene was a woman finding an axe in the station house and saving the veteran -In a shocking turn of events, people didn’t believe a chick could save a vet, so they changed it Uncle Tom’s Cabin: played for 300 performances (previous average run was 15 performances) Richard Wagner and Gesamtkunstwerk German theatre pretty much disappeared after Friedrich Hebbel died in 1863 and until 1899, the only person anyone really cared about was Wagner Richard Wagner (1813-1883) wrote his first opera, Die Feen, at 18 -Came from a theatrical family but was far more interested in opera -Wrote Opera and Drama (1852) and The Purpose of Opera (1871), both of which heavily influenced realism across Germany (i.e. Ibsen, eventually) -But Wagner aggressively hated realism – thought it was too concerned with the every-day, more interested in great impulses of an entire nation/community/race (not interested in the subjective or domestic; more into idealism and the Romantic idea of the artist-genius) -He also aggressively hated Italian opera (he thought it was self-serving, not historical/nationalist enough, and masturbatory [arias specifically]) -Shifted the structure (fused aria and recitatives to make the music continuous and flowing) -After the 1848 revolution (supported a classless society), he gets banished and puts together his ideas in 12 years; returns and opens his own theatre -Wagner’s ideal: drama “dipped in the magic fountain of music” Gesamtkunstwerk translates approximately to “unified art work”; refers to the idea that all of the elements of composition and production should be unified in some way -This was actually a very new idea at the time -Wagner believed the librettist should also design the set and costumes and direct the production, but at the very least, compose the music and write the book, and attend every rehearsal – today we call this person an auteur -Wagner first realized these ideas were first realized at the Festpielhaus (the Festival Theater, his theater in Bayreuth, which, for reference, held more audience members than the Nederlander) Wagner’s specific innovations: musicians hidden under the stage and not allowed to warm up in the pit (thus breaking the audience’s illusion); audiences forbidden to applaud (including during curtain call because there was no curtain call); house lights lowered during performance; no separation of seating; use of a steam curtain (series of vents above and below the stage to create a curtain of steam that would either hide scene changes or be used for a kickass actor entrance); synchronized music/lighting/scenery/acting (aka left nothing to interpretation by the actor) -All speaks to equality amongst entire company (actors, musicians, people backstage) and not wanting to break the illusion The Ring Cycle


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