2The Middle Ages origins of theatre: myths, rites the Middle Ages: everyday theatre: mimes and minstrelsliturgical dramaesp. at Easter (also other church festivals)Mystery plays: religious theatre for the people from sacred drama to profane(pro fano = ‘before the temple’from church to marketplace
3Later medieval developments Miracle Plays: Medieval plays treatingthe lives of saints, or Bible stories.Morality Plays: Allegorical medieval plays, like Everyman, that depict the eternal struggle between good and evil that transpires in this world, using characters like Vice, Virtue, Wisdom
4Commedia dell'arteItalian popular comedy of the 15th to 17th cc. Featured performances improvised from scenarios by a set of stock characters, and repeated from play to play and troupe to troupe.Scenario: in general, the prose description of a play's story. In the commedia dell'arte, the written outlines of plot and characters from which the actors improvised the particular actions of a performance.
7MasqueSpectacular theatrical form, especially of the Renaissance and the Neoclassical periods, usually associated with court theatres or special events. Emphasis was put on costumes and effects, with much music and dancing; amateur actors frequently performed
8The London sceneBankside: medieval centre of dissipation brothels and bear baiting within the estates of the Bishops of Winchester in 1546 Henry VIII had brothels closed 17th c.: reopened, together with theatres
10London theatresGLOBE ( ) now Park Street. Sign: Hercules +World. Used only in summer: no roof except for stage & galleries In the winter: Blackfriars Theatre (1578) as private theatre for choir boys to practise; Farrant on ground floor, theatre upstairs Shakespeare: shareholder and player HOPE in Bear Gardens: former bear and bull baiting arena (modelled on Swan + movable stage)
12Further London theatres ROSE ( , 1st Bankside playhouse) in Rose Lane: octagonal building of wood and plaster, partly thatched; built by Henslowe; played Marlowe's plays; SWAN in Paris Gardens (flint stones and wooden coloumns) sometimes used for fencing matches
1317th century1642: Puritans ban theatres - even demolish them - for moral reasons baroque: opera Restoration: she-tragedies with a woman in the leading role even Dryden's All for Love's Anthony: heart torn by feelings which he cannot control or understand male characters: unambiguous heroism: rather unconvincing
14Heroic dramaJohn Dryden ( ) exponent of the golden mean in art, politics and morality, Poet Laureate from 1668 Heroic couplet (a closed and balanced pair of rhyming iambic pentameters) against blank verse in much English drama works against dramatic illusion Italian and French influence audience face actors, rather than surround them: criticism presented outside the space of audience
15blank verse vs heroic couplet blank verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant Shakespeare "As You Like It" II.vll heroic couplet: 2 iambic pentameters
16Blank verse vs heroic couplet heroic couplet: 2 rhyming iambic pentameters(vs blank verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter)And since that plenteous autumn now is past,Whose grapes and peaches have indulged yourtaste,Take in good part, from our poor poet's board,Such rivelled fruits as winter can afford.Dryden, All for Love, “Prologue”
17The Age of RestorationThe term Restoration period is applied to the decadesfrom 1660 (the year Charles II was re-established asmonarch) to the end of the century.Between 1660 and 1700 over 500 plays were written inEngland, more than half of them comedies.
18The Age of RestorationIn 1642, six years before the execution of Charles I in1649, the Parliament closed the theatres in England.A few years later Oliver Cromwell was proclaimed LordProtector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland,and Ireland. His government was fiercely Puritan inreligion and in administration.Until the Restoration of Charles II to the throne in1660, there was very little of theatre in England.
19Restoration DramaDuring this time the influence of French theatre, andthrough it, Italian notions of theatre architecture, wasexperienced by English actors and royalists in exile.Charles II, the king, had been in France during thegreater part of the Protectorate, together with many ofthe royalist party, all of whom were familiar with Parisand its fashions. Upon the return of the court Frenchinfluence was felt, particularly in the theatre.
20Restoration Drama In August, 1660, Charles issued patents for two companies of players, and performances immediatelybegan.Theatre was beginning to focus more on themechanics of scenery and spectacle. The playsthemselves were often masques in which costume,dance and clever scenery and scene changes weremore emphasized than acting and plot.
21Restoration Drama Theatres began to display the proscenium style of architecture, although the forestage remained theprincipal place where the acting took place, and thearea behind the proscenium was reserved for thedisplay of scenery changes which were slid into viewby means of panels on tracks.During this time theatre was designed specifically forthe royal pleasure. Theatres began to be roofed in.
22Restoration DramaIt was at the time of the Restoration of the Crown inEngland, that women first began to appear on stage (aconvention borrowed from the French), instead offemale roles being played by boys and young men.Theatres were again licensed and controlledby the state, yet there occurred a broadening oftheatre's appeal – first to property owners andmerchants, and ultimately to the masses.
23Nell Gwynn (1650-1687), was one of the first actresses (and the mistress of Charles II).
24Restoration Drama This period also saw the first professional woman playwright, Aphra Behn( ).
25Age of Restoration Language The earlier Renaissance drive to enrich vocabulary wassuperseded by efforts at refinement and regulation oflanguage. The language of polite conversation, with itsemphasis on clarity and precision, was set as astandard.Chief spokesman for the new spirit was John Dryden( ). He brushed aside the grammar and syntaxof Shakespeare as no more than one could expectfrom a popular writer.
26Restoration Drama The Puritan closing of the theatres in 1642 did not mean the absolute disappearance of the Englishdrama. Plays were performed in the private residencesof country gentlemen. Some actors attempted publicperformances surreptitiously. Another and moreeffective circumvention of the authorities consisted ofdrolls, brief excerpts from dramas that could be quicklypresented at fairs before a raid could be launched.
27Restoration DramaYet the theatrical tradition was essentially broken. Mostactors of the Caroline stage were dead or out ofpractice when the Restoration gave the stage a newbirth.Upon his resumption of the throne in 1661 Charles IIgranted two patents, assigning the monopoly ofLondon theatrical performances to the King’sCompany, and to the Duke of York’s Company.
28Restoration Drama The Audience The Restoration theatre was entirely the court’spreserve. Charles II was the first English monarch whoregularly attended the public theatre (even though hehad his own private theatre at Whitehall). He personallyinterested himself in the preparation of scripts and inthe running of the acting companies.
29Restoration Drama The Audience The spectators at the two theatres were exclusivelycourtiers and their hangers-on. Two theatres weresufficient for the metropolis of London.Performances started at three-thirty or four in theafternoon. The aristocrats looked upon the playhouseas a social assembly where they had an opportunity todisport themselves.
30An Entry from the Diary of Samuel Pepys Monday 18 February 1666/67 Thence away, and with my wife by coach to the Duke ofYork’s play-house, expecting a new play, and so stayednot no more than other people, but to the King’s house,to “The Mayd’s Tragedy;” but vexed all the while withtwo talking ladies and Sir Charles Sedley; yet pleasedto hear their discourse, he being a stranger. And one ofthe ladies would, and did sit with her mask on, all theplay, and, being exceeding witty as ever I heardwoman, did talk most pleasantly with him; but was, Ibelieve, a virtuous woman, and of quality. He would fainknow who she was, but she would not tell;
31Pepys, cont. yet did give him many pleasant hints of her knowledge of him, by that means setting his brains atwork to find out who she was, and did give him leaveto use all means to find out who she was, but pullingoff her mask. He was mighty witty, and she alsomaking sport with him very inoffensively, that a morepleasant ‘rencontre’ I never heard. But by that meanslost the pleasure of the play wholly, to which now andthen Sir Charles Sedley’s exceptions against bothwords and pronouncing were very pretty. So home andto the office, did much business, then home, to supper,and to bed.
32Restoration Drama The Theatre William Davenant, head of the Duke of York’sCompany, abandoned the Renaissance English stagein favour of the French one. The theatres were indoors.The forestage still projected into the audience but wassignificantly cut. The curtain was Davenant’sinnovation. He also introduced painted backdrops.Gallants were seldom permitted on the stage, yet wereon display in boxes set on either side of the forestage(apron).
33Restoration Drama The Actors The limited patronage necessitated small professionalcompanies and plays with relatively few roles.Performers obtained salaries. Boy apprenticesvanished, and while a few males still took women’sroles, the first actresses appeared on stage. The veryfirst was Mrs. Margaret Hughes, playing the role ofDesdemona for the King’s Company in 1660.
34Restoration ComedyThe aftermath of Puritanism manifested itself in bawdycomedies, self-conscious indecency on stage wherebedroom and assignation scenes were blatant andadultery was a commonplace representation.
35Restoration ComedyThe kind of drama which prevailed during the Age of Restauration, often referred to as comedy of manners, chiefly concerned with presenting a society of elegance and stylishness.Its characters were gallants, ladies and gentlemen of fashion and ranks, fops, rakes, social climbers and country bumpkins.The tone was witty, urbane, licentious.The plot dealt with the intricacies of sexual and marital intrigue, with adultery and cuckoldry.
36Restoration ComedyThe main goal of these comedies of manners in the period of Restoration is to entertain and to mock society. The audience was supposed to laugh at themselves.However, many critiques of marriage that we see in the play are devastating, and the game of love is not much more hopeful. Although the endings are happy and the man invariably gets the woman, we see marriages without love.
37Restoration ComedyTypically, one of the major themes of restoration comedy is marriage and the game of love. The plot would involve a dashing, witty hero trying to have sex with as many women as possible without getting into trouble, with funny consequences. Restoration comedies include bawdy humour, witty dialogues, recursive cross-dressing.
38Restoration ComedyWomen were allowed to perform on stage for the first time, and the mostly male audiences were attracted by the idea of seeing women acting out seduction scenes and the possibility of seeing a bit of shapely leg on stage. Clothes were often several sizes too small so as to emphasize the curves of their bodies.
39Restoration Comedy Chief representatives and plays: William Wycherley: The Country Wife (1672 or 1673); The Plain Dealer (1674)George Etheredge: The Man of Mode (1676)William Congreve: The Double Dealer (1694); Love for Love (11695); The Way of the World (1700)John Vanbrugh: The Provoked Wife (1697)George Farquhar: The Beaux’ Strategem (1707)Thomas Shadwell: The Libertine (1676), The Volunteers, or Stockjobbers (1693)
40Comedy of Manners A genre which has for its main subjects and themes the behaviour and deportment of people living underspecific social codes. It is preoccupied with the codesof the middle and upper classes and is often marked byelegance, wit and sophistication.Restoration comedies provide outstanding instances.Later examples of the genre are Oscar Wilde’s TheImportance of Being Ernest (1895) or Noël Coward’sPrivate Lives (1930).
42The Country Wife Plot summary by Robin Bates http://www In Wycherley’s play, the one person who wants to tell the truth is pressured to be silent so that the society can continue to teeter along. Here’s the plot.The lead character is Horner, a predatory rake who wants to cuckold as many husbands as he can. Because the husbands are so leery of him, however, he has a doctor (Quack) leak the news that he has been rendered impotent by venereal disease. Since he is now “safe,” Sir Jasper Fidget wants Horner to chaperone his wife as he goes about his business. Horner more than obliges.
43The Country Wife, cont.But Horner also has an affair with Marjorie Pinchwife, the country wife of the title, who is innocent to the ways of the city and who believes that two people who love each other should be together. She likes Horner much better than her jealous husband and is prepared, in a burst of sincerity, to publicly declare Horner her lover and leave her husband for him. In doing so, of course, she would reveal that he has been faking his disease.Suddenly, the whole society is in danger of imploding. Sir Jasper will be revealed to have been a cuckold, as will Pinchwife. Their wives, meanwhile, will lose their “honor,” as will all the other women that Horner has been “chaperoning.”
44The Country Wife, cont.So what do they do? Do they admit that the husbands are neglecting or abusing their wives and that the wives prefer outer appearance to inner virtue? Do they question the drive for gratification and look to spiritual connection with another human being over mere sexual trysts? Do they view the threatened crisis as an opportunity to rethink their priorities?Or do they persuade the one truthful, trusting, and non-cynical character, the country wife, to tell a lie so that society can continue on as before?Marjorie realizes she is condemned to a loveless marriage. In all likelihood she will learn how to counterfeit virtue and tell lies while engaging in clandestine affairs. She has been trained to be corrupt like the rest of them.
46The Way of the WorldThe play is based around the two lovers Mirabell and Millamant. In order for the two to get married and receive Millamant's full dowry, Mirabell must receive the blessing of Millamant's aunt, Lady Wishfort. Unfortunately, she is a bitter lady, who despises Mirabell and wants her own nephew, Sir Wilful, to wed Millamant.Mirabell and Millamant, equally strong-willed, discuss in detail the conditions under which they would accept each other in marriage (otherwise known as the "proviso scene"), showing the depth of feeling for each other. Mirabell finally proposes to Millamant and Millamant accepts.
47The Way of the World, cont. The love expressed in the play tends to be centred on material gain rather than the love of the partner. This can be seen in the scene where Millamant and Mirabell effectively carry out a pre-nuptial agreement, Millamant insisting on having all manner of liberties and powers, quite unusual for the time.None of the characters in the play can really be seen as 'good', and as such it is difficult to find a hero or heroine, or indeed anybody whom one would find deserving of sympathy.
48William Congreve: The Way of the World ACT IV. – SCENE V. MRS William Congreve: The Way of the World ACT IV. – SCENE V. MRS. MILLAMANT, MIRABELL.MILLA. […] My dear liberty, shall I leave thee? My faithful solitude, my darling contemplation, must I bid you then adieu? Ay-h, adieu. My morning thoughts, agreeable wakings, indolent slumbers, all ye DOUCEURS, ye SOMMEILS DU MATIN, adieu. I can't do't, 'tis more than impossible—positively, Mirabell, I'll lie a-bed in a morning as long as I please.MIRA. Then I'll get up in a morning as early as I please.MILLA. Ah! Idle creature, get up when you will. And d'ye hear, I won't be called names after I'm married; positively I won't be called names.MIRA. Names?
49The Way of the World, cont. MILLA. Ay, as wife, spouse, my dear, joy, jewel, love, sweet-heart, and the rest of that nauseous cant, in which men and their wives are so fulsomely familiar—I shall never bear that. Good Mirabell, don't let us be familiar or fond, nor kiss before folks, like my Lady Fadler and Sir Francis; nor go to Hyde Park together the first Sunday in a new chariot, to provoke eyes and whispers, and then never be seen there together again, as if we were proud of one another the first week, and ashamed of one another ever after. Let us never visit together, nor go to a play together, but let us be very strange and well-bred. Let us be as strange as if we had been married a great while, and as well-bred as if we were not married at all.
50The Way of the World, cont. MIRA. Have you any more conditions to offer? Hitherto your demands are pretty reasonable.MILLA. Trifles; as liberty to pay and receive visits to and from whom I please; to write and receive letters, without interrogatories or wry faces on your part; to wear what I please, and choose conversation with regard only to my own taste; to have no obligation upon me to converse with wits that I don't like, because they are your acquaintance, or to be intimate with fools, because they may be your relations. Come to dinner when I please, dine in my dressing- room when I'm out of humour, without giving a reason. To have my closet inviolate; to be sole empress of my tea-table, which you must never presume to approach without first asking leave. And lastly, wherever I am, you shall always knock at the door before you come in. These articles subscribed, if I continue to endure you a little longer, I may by degrees dwindle into a wife.
51The Way of the World, cont. […]MIRA. Then we're agreed. Shall I kiss your hand upon the contract?
52Comedy of manners Summary the social habits (manners and mores) of a given society, usually the dominant one at the time, typically the upper classesOften cold caricature, witness to lack of moral standards in society at the timeRestoration comedy: 1660 to early 18th centurysexual and marital intrigue(Comedy of manners: term not restricted to drama)
53Heroic Drama - A form of tragedy which was fashionable at the beginning of the Restoration period.- Its themes were love and honour, its mode grand,rhetorical and declamatory, at its worst bombastic.- The chief influence was French classical drama,especially the works of Pierre Corneille ( ).- It was staged in a spectacular and operatic fashion.- John Dryden’s The Indian Queen (1664), The IndianEmperor (1665) and All for Love (based onShakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra) are goodexamples.
54Sentimental Comedy The Age of Neoclassicism Also known as the drama of sensibility, it followed onfrom Restoration comedy and was a kind of reactionagainst what was regarded as immorality and licence inthe latter.As Oliver Goldsmith put it, in it “the virtues of privatelife are exhibited, rather than the vices exposed, andthe distresses rather than the frailty of mankind.”
55Sentimental Comedy The characters, both good and bad, were luminously simple.A chief instance is Oliver Goldsmith’s The GoodNatured Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer, or TheMistakes of a Night (1773).Goldsmith, however, mocks sentimental comedycontinually, revealing sensiblity as hypocrisy.
56Neoclassicist comedy of manners Another exponent of neoclassicist comedy of manners wasRichard Brinsley Butler Sheridan (1751–1816), anIrish-born playwright and poet and long-term owner of theLondon Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His masterpiece is TheSchool for Scandal (1777) in which he attackssentimentalism and criticizes frivolous and fraudulentLondon high society.
57Romanticism (mainly in German theatre): need for historical consistency (no precision, though) for imaginative & plausible presentation (realism)mid-19th c. France: return to the tradition of middle class dramasgood acting: move with the natural elegance of gentrytouring companies disappear
58New HistoricismInterrogate the relationship between history and literature – especially concerning the Renaissance and Romantic period
59Victorian Drama The Theatre Act of 1843 broke the monopoly of London drama granted to Covent Garden and Drury Lane by theAct of The modern theatre was free to develop.The expansion was devoted to a popular clientele, lowermiddle class and some of the working classes.For them Victorian stage provided melodrama.
60Victorian Drama Plays were characterized by suspenseful plot (characterization was subordinated to it)pseudo-realism (contemporary setting, persuasive realism, elegant splendour)stereotyped figures (valiant seamen, virtuous shopgirls, cruel mortgage holders, etc.)sentimentalismnaive moral concepts (the virtuous are rewarded)Stagecraft: electric lighting was first introduced in theSavoy Theatre in1881
61Oscar Wilde ( )In the guise of the „well-made play” of the period, i.e. neatly and economically constructed play which works with mechanical efficiency, Wilde’s dramas restored the sparkling comedy of manners which disappeared with Sheridan. His theatre is sometimes termed as the epigrammatic theatre, since the dialogues move forward by rapid exchanges of witty statements.The Importance of Being Ernest (1895) – Wilde termed it “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People”
62Oscar Wilde and photographs from the first production of the play
63Twentieth-Century Drama Strongly individualistic as opposed to the epochs of previous dramaEmphasized sociological problems
64Comedy of IdeasA term loosely applied to plays which tend to debate, ina witty and humorous fashion, ideas and theories.George Bernard Shaw is an outstanding exponent inMan and Superman (1905), The Doctor’s Dilemma(1906) and other plays.
65George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Staunch vegetarian, pacifist, antivivisectionist, socialist,champion of the Irish over the English.The chief Shavian quality is the ability to make people thinkby compelling them to laugh.His key technique was turning everything topsy-turvy andforcing the audience to see the other half of the truth.Lengthy speeches and prolonged stage conversations
67Mrs. Warren’s Profession Written in 1894, produced in 1902, privately. The censorput ban on the play that was not lifted until 1924.The satiric play is a dramatic representation of the Marxistcontention that virtue is impossible in a capitalistic society.Vivie Warren, a modern independent girl is distressedwhen she understands that her mother had escaped frompoverty by prostitution. She insists that her mother retirefrom her position as the head of an international chainof brothels, financed by a respectable gentleman, SirGeorge Crofts. Mrs. Warren refuses, and Vivie renouncesher mother to live by honest work in London.
68Verse Drama Verse drama is a drama written as verse to be spoken; another possible general term is poetic drama. For avery long period, it was the dominant form of drama inEurope.During the twentieth century verse drama fellalmost completely out of fashion with dramatistswriting in English.However the plays of T. S. Eliot, most notably Murderin the Cathedral (1935), brought a revival of the form.A postmodernist example is Serious Money (1987) byCaryl Churchill.
69Post-War TheatreReaction against the realist conventions dominating the stage. (The opening of the curtain seemed to remove the fourth wall of a fully furnished middle-class or upper middle-class sitting-room. The dialogues had to seem realistic.The English stage was ruled by the commercial theatre, management fulfilled their task of providing entertainment which had a proven saleability. There was no place for plays of questionably commercial values regardless of their artistic merits.By the mid-50s0 it seemed inevitable that English theatre was about to be transformed.
70Post-War TheatreIt was the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre that finally created opportunity for fresh talent and experimental performances.John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger was a breakthrough, and the theatre added to their repertoire plays by Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and others.
71Angry Young Man Movement Kitchen-Sink Drama Middle and late 1950s trendMain exponent on stage was John Osborne ( )Look Back in Anger (1956) spoke for a generation ofdiscontented young men often with working-classbackground, who were opposed to the establishment anddisillusioned by post-second world war social situation.Jimmy Porter represents the anti-hero.
72Look Back in Anger 1989 performance by the Renaissance Theatre Company with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, directed by Judy Dench
74Kitchen-Sink ComedyA term which became popular in Great Britain in themiddle and late 1950s. Often used derogatorily, it appliedto plays which, in a realistic fashion, showed aspects ofworking-class life at the time. The implication was that theplay centred, metaphorically (or psychologically) and insome cases literally, on the kitchen sink. The works of JohnOsborne, Arnold Wesker were all so described. It isdoubtful if the term derives in any way from Wesker's playThe Kitchen because this was first presented in aproduction without décor in 1958, and not given a fullproduction until 1961.(Cuddon)
75Comedy of Menace A term denoting a kind of lay in which one or more characters feel that they are threatened by someobscure and frightening force, power, personality.The fear and menace become a source of comdey,albeit grim or black.Harold Pinter exploited the possibilities of suchsituation in his early plays.
77Harold Pinter Comedy of Menace / Memory Plays Pinter's career as a playwright began with a productionof The Room in His early works, such as TheBirthday Part (1958), The Dumb Waiter (1959), and TheCaretaker (1959) were described by critics as "comedyof menace".Later plays such as No Man's Land (1975) and Betrayal(1978) became known as "memory plays".
78Memory Plays (1968–1982)From the late 1960s through the early 1980s, Pinterwrote a series of plays and sketches that explorecomplex ambiguities, elegiac mysteries, comicvagaries, and other "quicksand-like" characteristics ofmemory.
79The Theatre of the Absurd A term applied to many of the works of a group ofdramatists who were active in the 1950s: SamuelBeckett, Harold Pinter, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genetand others.The phrase 'theatre of the absurd' was probablycoined by Martin Esslin, who wrote The Theatre of theAbsurd (1961).
80The Theatre of the Absurd The origins of this form of drama are obscure, but itwould be reasonable to suppose that its lineage istraceable from Roman mime plays, through to aspectsof comic business and technique in medieval andRenaissance drama and commedia dell'arte, andthence to the dramatic works of Alfred Jarry, AugustStrindberg and Bertolt Brecht.(Cuddon)
81The Theatre of the Absurd The work of Jarry is vital and the possibilities of atheatre of the absurd are already apparent in Ubu Roi(1896). Almost certainly dadaism and surrealisminfluenced the development of the theatre of theabsurd, and so have Antonin Artaud's theories on thetheatre of cruelty.(Cuddon)
82The Theatre of the Absurd An awareness of the essential absurdity of muchhuman behaviour has been inherent in the work ofmany writers from Aristophanes to Cervantes to Swiftto Dickens.(Cuddon)
83The Theatre of the Absurd However, the concept of homo absurdas has acquireda rather more specific meaning in the last hundredyears or so. This is partly, no doubt, owing to the needto provide an explanation of man's apparentlypurposeless role and position in a universe which ispopularly imagined to have no discernible reason forexistence.Mathematically, a surd is that which cannot beexpressed in finite terms of ordinary numbers orquantities. Hence irrational rather than ridiculous.(Cuddon)
84The Theatre of the Absurd The collection of essays The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)by Albert Camus and the existentialist philosophies ofthe mid-20th century not independent of the two worldwars gave an impetus to the vision of human life as astruggle with the irrationality of experience.
85The Theatre of the Absurd The plays themselves lack a formal logic andconventional structure, so that both form andcontent support (while emphasizing the difficulty ofcommunicating) the representation of what may becalled the absurd predicament.(Cuddon)
87Samuel Beckett Plays of the Middle Period After World War II, Beckett used the French languageas a vehicle.During the 15 years following the second world waryears Beckett produced four major full-length stageplays: En attendant Godot (written 1948–1949; Waitingfor Godot), Fin de partie (1955–1957; Endgame),Krapp's Last Tape (1958), and Happy Days (1961).These deal in a very blackly humorous way withthe subject of despair and the will to survive in spite ofthat despair, in the face of an uncomprehending andincomprehensible world.
88Late Plays In the 1960s and into the 1970s, Beckett's dramatic works exhibited an increasing tendency towardscompactness. He reduced his plays to the utmostessentials. These works are often described asminimalist. The extreme example of this Breath (1969)which lasts for only 35 seconds and has nocharacters.
89Postmodernist DramaOne of the he chief exponents of postmodernist dramais Tom Stoppard (1937) British playwright.His theatre has three main features:(1) brilliant language: verbal contests, verbal punning(2) weird theatrical ideas: e.g. play around the action of another play (Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern), double plot in Arcadia, the present researching the past(3) an intellectual frame of reference: Wittgenstein language philosophy, Chaos theory, Newton’s physics, thermodynamics, both intellectually entertaining and with serious moral considerations
90Tom Stoppard Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966) The reverse of the play within the play scene in WilliamShakespeare’s Hamlet, Stoppard’s play is a playaround a play. Stoppard places two miner charactersfrom Hamlet into central position.Ros and Guil are no heroes, not even separatepersonalities. Taking two characters from a play, andtesting their actions against a plot we all know well,Stoppard explores questions of predictability, i.e.determinism and free will. Also, explores questions ofself-identity and possibilities of communication vialanguage.
91Tom Stoppard Arcadia (1993) brings together two time periods, 1809/12 and the present. The setting is Sidley Park, alarge country house owned by the Coverly family. Thescenes alternate until the very last one where the twotime periods appear simultaneously on a divided stage.The present group of characters is doing research onthe past group of characters and their activities, buttheir assumptions turn out to be almost whollymistaken.
92Tom Stoppard Stoppard parodied theatrical conventions in many ways. The main plot of Jumpers (1972) is constitutedby a murder story, but the dialogues are occupied by aseries of very entertaining philosophical perception sothe murder case is almost completely ignored.
93Tom Stoppard Travesties concerns an English consular official, Henry Carr as he reminisces about Zürich in 1917 during theFirst World War, and his interactions with James Joycewhen he was writing Ulysses, Tristan Tzara during therise of Dada, and Lenin leading up to the RussianRevolution, all of whom were living in Zürich at thattime. Carr's memories are couched in a Zürichproduction of Oscar Wilde's play The Importance ofBeing Earnest in which he had a starring role.
94Tom Stoppard The Real Inspector Hound (1967) Stoppard takes great pleasure in ironically subvertingdramatic conventions thus reacting against stagerealism. In the opening scene of this play he parodiesthe pseudo-realistic dialogues in effort to to get acrossbasic information concerning the characters in theplay.
95Tom Stoppard Mrs Drudge the cleaning woman happens to be dusting the phone when it rings. He answers “informatively”.
96[The phone rings. MRS DRUDGE seems to have been waiting for it do so and for the last few seconds has been dusting it with an intense concentration. She snatches it up]MRS DRUDGE [Into the phone.] Hello, the drawing-room ofLady Muldoon's country residence one morning in earlyspring? ... Hello!--the draw----Who? Who did you wish tospeak to? I'm afraid there is no one of that name here, thisis all very mysterious and I am sure it's leading up tosomething, I hope nothing is wrong for us. Lady Muldoonand her houseguests, are here cut off from the world,including Magnus, the wheelchair-ridden half-brother of herladyship's husband Lord Albert Muldoon. Ten years ago, hewent out for a walk on the cliffs and was never seen again-and all alone, for they had no children.