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Theatre History II, Week Four

by: Hannah Levine

Theatre History II, Week Four THEA 24200

Marketplace > Ithaca College > Theatre > THEA 24200 > Theatre History II Week Four
Hannah Levine
GPA 3.887

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Notes on week four of Dr. Dail's History of Theatre II
History of Theatre II
Dr. Chrystyna Dail
Class Notes
Theatre History
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah Levine on Sunday February 21, 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 19 views. For similar materials see History of Theatre II in Theatre at Ithaca College.


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Date Created: 02/21/16
WEEK FOUR 2.15.16 (Guest Lecture #1) A Dramaturge’s Approach to Mrs. Warren’s Profession What exactly is a dramaturge? -Critics, professors, researchers, collaborators, etc. -Production dramaturge: someone hired to assist with the new staging of an older historic play in support of the entire artistic team -Holds a shit ton of knowledge about the play, playwright, and historical time period George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), born in Dublin -Aggressively hated school -Wrote five failed novels; became a theatre critic in the 1880s -Admired Ibsen, etc.; influenced audience tastes and preferences as a critic such that the type of artist he later came to emulate was already popular -Mrs. Warren was his first major play in 1937; proceeded to write almost 60 plays in 57 years -Won a Nobel Prize for Literature -In 19 Century England/America, being Irish was the worst; the Irish were perceived as vulgar, dangerous, lazy, etc., so Shaw had to pass -Reflected in Mrs. Warren Act II when “she suddenly breaks out vehemently in her natural tongue” -Joined the London Fabian Society; heavily influenced his first three plays (his “plays unpleasant”) -The Fabians are a middleclass socialist organization believing in gradual, incremental change working within the system of electoral democracy (not communists but reformers and social democrats; helped to establish the modern labor party) -Basically Bernie Sanders! #feelthebern! -Shaw ran for/held public office -“In Mrs. Warren’s Profession I have gone straight for the fact that, as Mrs. Warren puts it, ‘the only way for a woman to provide for herself decently is for her to be good to some man that can afford to be good to her,’” –Shaw -Theme of “New Woman” = free, smart, independent woman who doesn’t need a man -In Mrs. Warren, Vivie is the freakin’ epitome of the New Woman -Mrs. W, meanwhile, is largely a mouthpiece for Shaw to share his thoughts on prostitution and social issues -Mrs. Warren was banned for eight years and was still a private performance when finally staged; no public premiere until a 1905 production in New York City (twelve years after the play was written, though it was published well before then) -Even then, Shaw was brought up on charges of public indecency; he was seen as a pseudo-anarchist and peddler of pornography -He reacted by openly mocking the officials -Appealed to female readers, the “unhappy prisoners” of the home -Wrote about a million prefaces -His ridiculous stage directions give him the opportunity to basically direct the play from afar as the playwright -At the time, prostitution (as well as incest and same-sex love) was a public secret in the sense that you could talk about it but you couldn’t name it -Big question: what actually is normal? -Shaw accuses the people of being complicit in prostitution by allowing a world with an immoral minimum wage in which women live in poverty and are left with no other choice 2.17.16 (Guest Lecture #2) The Science of Life: A Dramaturge’s Approach To The Importance of Being Earnest -Research: begin with a glossary and a general lowdown on the time period, social environment, and physical environment (including pictures, maps, etc., of Hertfordshire) -Wilde satirizes the upper classes/older upper class comedies/social climbers -May, in large part, have just written for fun/to entertain -The scientific attention to minutia at the core of the modern sitcom is also at the core of Important of Being Earnest (think Seinfeld) -Wilde’s text is full of tangents and digressions -Often, actors/directors cut pieces of text that serve no purpose to the plot of the piece; the problem there is that Wilde was no idiot. He wrote that way for a reason; no one knows the play better than the playwright him/herself. -A dramaturge should approach a play as it is rather than how it should be -Take into account the weird, tangential structure and buy in to the world of the play, which ought to be sealed -“A handbag!” might be the most iconic line in the whole freakin’ play -The equal attention and casual acceptance given to every bit of minutia keeps the system from breaking down -It is, in large part, a dramaturge’s call whether to comment on the world of the play or to play it straight (and, given an understanding of Wilde’s style, the better call might be to play it straight) -Tangents often marked by physically stepping outside the dramatic playing area or by a noted change in vocal pitch 2.19.16 Aestheticism, cont. -The shifting etymology of the word “artist” -Prior to 1850, an artist was an artisan, scientist, or painter -After 1850, an artist came to define a sensitive individual with refined tastes, creative talents, and a highly developed imagination who creates sensual patterns; everyone else interprets them -“The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, paring his fingernails,” –James Joyce -Aka I don’t give a shit what you think about me; my art rocks -An artist also has to be technically proficient in their chosen art form; rejects the idea that everyone has a creative side and embraces a direct correlation between technical proficiency and how good of an artist you are -Art serves no moral, philosophical, scientific, or propagandist ends -Artists should live together and apart from others (i.e. in communes) and not concern themselves with everyone else’s problems The Irish Renaissance Irish Literary Theatre (1899) -Formed by Yeats, Gregory, Moore, and Martyn; its goals went on to guide the goals of the renaissance as a whole -Goal to build up Irish literature that reflects the thoughts and emotions of Ireland (couldn’t outright reflect their frustration with oppression and anger the English) -Tried to rise above political context and produced a handful of nationalist plays but they shadily cast almost exclusively English actors in Irish roles -Fell apart due to money and disagreement over artistic vision -Political Context: -Ireland is a colony of the British Empire in 1899 -Some wanted to build Ireland up without separating; others thought Ireland and Britain might become equals; and others still consistently rallied for separation -Political debates exacerbated by religious debates between Catholics and Protestants -Catholics are more traditionally Irish; Protestants are seen as wealthy English who came over and colonized, though both groups have been there long enough that they both see themselves as Irish -Protestants try to suggest that we’re all from the same roots; Catholics are like hell no you are blatantly oppressing us -Ormond Dramatic Society (1899) -Founded by W.G. and Frank Fay; they see Theatre Libre in France and adopt the pseudo-Naturalism (extreme Realism) as well as the (German?) idea of not putting up a play until it’s completely ready


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