Theatre History II, Week Seven
Theatre History II, Week Seven THEA 24200
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah Levine on Monday March 28, 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 9 views. For similar materials see History of Theatre II in Theatre at Ithaca College.
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Date Created: 03/28/16
WEEK SEVEN 3.21.16 French Symbolism (1885-1900) -First anti-Realist movement; had a massive impact despite only lasting 15 years -Many European countries eventually developed some form of Symbolist theatre -Inspired largely by Wagner, Baudelaire, and Edgar Allan Poe -Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil (1857) depicts human life as mysterious and irrational; rejects accepted standards of decency; rejects utilitarianism -Poe was very much a symbolist -Began when John Moréas (1885) wrote a manifesto on symbolism as an artistic whole -Gustave Kahn (1889) wrote the first explicitly theatrical symbolist manifesto -Instead of finding truth in observable reality, the Symbolists were into “the sixth sense,” the ability to ascend mentally and spiritually through art that we all have but only some dive into -Post-modernists believe that there is no such thing as objectivity, everything is subjective, and performance comes down to the experience of the spectator -Symbolists disagree to an extent; they think the artist’s interpretation is more important than the audience’s -Truth is in the subjective, the spiritual, and the mysterious forces at work in the world, and this truth can only be reflected in symbols and moods -Drama is a sacred/mysterious rite -Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) -Princess Maleine, based on a Brother’s Grimm story, was an overnight success, considered by some to be more beautiful and tragic than Macbeth or Hamlet; contains repetitive dialogue and huge pauses -“Great poetry is made up of three principle elements: first, verbal beauty; then, the contemplation and passionate portrayal of what actually exists about us and within is, that is to say, nature and our sentiments; [something about enveloping the whole work in an atmosphere proper to it]. I have no doubt that this last is the most important.” -Protagonists are often blind or elderly -Created “static drama,” in which the action and dialogue are less important than the silences (i.e. The Intruder [in which an 80 year old man sits in a chair center stage, knowing his daughter is about to die, and watches life go on around him] and The Blind) -People repeat themselves a lot and dialogue is often muttered or chanted and hard to hear -Paul Claudel (1868-1955) -Considered the greatest Symbolist playwright; basically ignored during his lifetime but grew popular in the 1940s -Wrote symbolic explorations of spiritual states, best expressed through dream-like visions -Best known for The Satin Slipper, which contains both a moment in which the two hemispheres of the earth must have a conversation and moment in which the Earth is represented by a bead on a rosary -Really, really, really hard to stage his plays -Paul Fort, at age 17, formed the Théâtre d’Art in France, which lasted from 1890-1892 -Believed that theatre is a “pretext for dream” -The performances were extremely amateur, so audiences were split between people who were super excited about where Symbolism was heading and people who came to heckle -The most influential critic came and blatantly laughed at every performance until the people who were into Symbolism literally threatened to jump onto his head from the balcony -Without Paul Fort, the Symbolist movement likely would have remained in the realm of theory without making it to the stage; needed young people who were willing to face financial and artistic failure -Aurélien-Marie Lugné-Poë formed the Théâtre de l’Oeuvre (1893-1899) -Much more professional -Every show was preceded by a pre-show explanatory lecture (which is super important) -Because audiences were actually prepared going in, they didn’t face ridicule -Used same performance style for all productions -Symbolism considered a subversive assault on morality and the government; symbolism was akin to anarchism -Goal to achieve a spiritual and mental transcendence in the audience 3.23.16 Appia, Craig, and Reinhardt: Advances in Design and Production (1890-1910) Adolphe Appia (1862-1928), born in Geneva -Brought up in a strictly Puritanical household and fell in love with music through the church, then eventually came to idolize Wagner -Took issue with the discrepancies between Wagner’s theories and how they were being actualized, so he wrote his own theories -Believed the disparity between the three-dimensional performer and the two- dimensional design was the biggest issue in design; wanted to harmonize all the theatrical elements around the performer to create an overwhelming theatrical experience for the spectator -He felt that Wagner was misguided in using realistic scenic design and that, instead, the scenic environment was best if it was merely suggestive -Experimented in space, volume, and mass with platforms, steps, and ramps -He saw light as the visual equivalent of music -Follower of Emile Dalcroze’s idea of Eurythmics (a kinesthetic system to learn rhythm) Gordon Craig (1872-1966) was, believe it or not, an actor, despite lowkey hating actors -Lovechild of Ellen Terry and Edward Godwin -Really, really well-respected as a performer (his Hamlet rocked!) -Only thirteen of his designs were ever realized -Follower of Walter Pater (the Aesthetics movement) and Symbolists -“The pinnacle of theatre exists when a master artist, without need of a literary text, creates every element of a performance whose purpose is to reflect an absolute beauty” -Basically the narcissist equivalent of devised theatre -Used moveable screens -Didn’t see acting as an art; argued instead for the use of an ubermarionette that could carry out all of the demands of the master artist without ego getting in the way -If not an ubermarionette, then some kind of stylized performance (i.e. Chinese theatre’s rigidity) or full-head masks to hide the subjectivity and flaws of actors -Appia wanted to interpret the dramatist while Craig didn’t need text; Appia privileged the actor while Craif preferred the ubermarionette; Appia went for different settings for each locale while Craig had one unifying setting expressing the spirit of a work -Both rejected realism and embraced dimensionality, harmony, and beauty Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) was an actor who then put together a late-night cabaret in Germany called Sound and Smoke -Yes, this DID heavily influence Kander & Eb’s Cabaret -Then became the experimental Kleines Theater (1902) -He then became the director of the Deutsches Theater (1905), a 1000 seat mainstream theatre -Combined his love for the avant-garde with a need for commercialism by purchasing the 300-seat house next door to the Deutsches and creating the experimental Kammerspiele theater -Made “Art Theatre” popular for the first time 3.25.16 Beijing Opera Brief History of Jingxi -In 1790, performers from Anhui province bring pihuang music system to Beijing -Pihuang is formed of erhuang (serious) and xipi (happy) music styles -Dan actors (performers of female roles, who were initially male) dominated until the 1830s; sheng actors (male roles) took over in popularity -Incredibly simple set (nearly bare stage with a curtain on the upstage wall) but richly symbolic -Companies were initially all-male; thl-female companies came around later, and then mixed companies began to form in the 20 century -Four types of roles: male (sheng), female (dan), painted-face (jing), and clown (chou) -Each type is subdivided and further identified by melodies, pitches, etc. -Most actors start in a certain type of role by age 6 or7 and then stay there their entire lives -Two types of plays: civil (wen) and military (wu), further subdivided into serious (daxi) and comedic (xiaoxi) -Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) -Very well respected dan performer from a long line of Beijing Opera actors -Noticed that female actresses were being treated poorly and advocated on their behalf -Refused to perform during the Japanese occupation -Also advocated for the government under communism but like, that wasn’t really his call -Toured in the 1930s and was a HUGE inspiration to Meyerhold and Brecht when he performed at the Moscow Art Theatre
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