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Modern Drama - Major Playwrights

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1 Modern Drama - Major Playwrights
Part I: Europe Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Wilde, Shaw, Synge, Pirandello Course: Modern British and American Plays | 근대영미희곡 Date: March 2010

2 Extracts from each play text
Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879) Strindberg’s Miss Julie (1888) Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (1904) Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) Shaw’s Pygmalion (1912) Synge’s Riders to the Sea (1904) Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921)

3 Henrik Ibsen(헨릭 입센, 1828-1906) Norwegian playwright, poet
the father of modern drama the prose ‘social dramas’ – dramas of protest against social conditions, inquiry into the conditions of life and issues of morality domestic dramas realistic plays → naturalistic plays → symbolic plays

4 Henrik Ibsen: Notable Works
A Doll’s House (1879) [1889 UK perf.] – a realistic play, a criticism of the acceptance of traditional roles of men and women in Victorian marriage Ghosts (1881) – a naturalistic play, commentary on Victorian morality The Wild Duck (1884) - Ibsen’s finest and the most complex work Hedda Gabler (1890) – psychological conflicts The Master Builder (1892) – symbolic plays, psychological conflicts

5 Ibsen’s contributions to the modern theater
Ibsen was a very important influence in opening up the discussion of the position of women in society Nora in A Doll’s House started a discussion about the position of women in Victorian marriage; Mrs Alving in Ghosts drew attention to the double standards of morality for men and women; and Hedda Gabler ultimately constitutes a plea to allow women to develop their creativeness. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 98) ‘endowing his work with a double-leveled perspective’ (Robert Brustein, 1991: 49)

6 Ibsen’s contribution to modern British drama
Ibsen has been called ‘the father of modern drama’ because he was the first to use the stage to debate contemporary social dilemmas, as in his best known play, about a claustrophobic marriage, A Doll’s House. Ibsen’s plays offers ‘Lessons’ on the hypocrisy and dual standards of society He took for his subjects, for example, the role of women in society (A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler) and the consequences of inherited syphilis (Ghosts).

7 Ibsen’s contribution to modern British drama
When A Doll’s House was first performed in London in it triggered a major debate on the inadequacies of the commercial theatre. The Theatre of Ideas: ‘Ibsenites’ – young enthusiastic intellectuals for the new plays inspired by Ibsen – seized on the idea of theatre as a political force. Social comment, drawing audiences with realistic controversial drama concerning ordinary people

8 August Strindberg 오거스트 스트린드베리 (1849-1912)
Swedish playwright naturalistic drama expressionistic drama 자연주의극, 표현주의극 Miss Julie (1888): a [one-act] naturalistic tragedy 자연주의 단막극 A Dream Play (1901): a symbolist and mystic style

9 Naturalism . . . was a movement, initiated by Emile Zola; the application of the new positivist, scientific spirit of the age to literature. Zola not only wanted a realistic representation of everyday life, he rejected the idea which had infused the classical, the romantic and even the realistic theatre of his period, that art should strive to show the beautiful, heroic, uplifting and inspiring. (Martin Esslin, : 60)

10 Naturalism (continued)
Zola wanted the artist to uncover the truth about society in the same spirit of objective inquiry as that of a natural scientist’s approach to nature. It was in this spirit that Ibsen in Ghosts brought a hitherto taboo subject like venereal disease into the theatre and caused an enormous scandal. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 60-61)

11 Naturalism (continued)
The basic impulse behind the naturalistic movement was a determination to capture the whole of human experience, however sordid and ugly, to leave nothing unsaid. It did this by an accumulation of significant detail. In romantic drama, the heroes talked in lofty poetic terms about love or glory By concentrating on the concrete detail rather than on abstract sentiments, naturalism tended to transform itself into a style in which objects increasingly became symbols, embodiment of ideas. So naturalism merged into symbolism. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 61-62)

12 Naturalism (continued)
Strindberg who had started out as naturalist, took a slightly different path. In [his] determination to represent experience exactly as it really was, [he] soon discovered that depicting the external world tells only half the story; you also had to include the way that world was experienced by an individual, and that meant his internal world. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 62)

13 Expressionist drama Hence Strindberg wrote a number such plays – The Ghost Sonata, To Damascus and the Dream Play itself which, quite in the spirit of naturalism, tried to depict a dream. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 62) In expressionist drama the characters frequently do not even have names (in Ghost Sonata: the Old man, the Student, the Mummy, the Colonel, etc.).

14 Bertolt Brecht’s ‘epic theatre’ (브레히트의 서사극)
[Bertolt Brecht] rejected naturalism as well as the classical and romantic theatre although he took many ideas from them. His favourite term was ‘epic theatre’. Brecht wanted an ‘undramatic’- an epic-theatre [in] which [the audience] watch the play in a detached, critical frame of mind. This is the famous Verfremdungseffekt translated as alienation effect. It really means strange-making effect. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 64-65)

15 Bertolt Brecht’s ‘epic theatre’ (브레히트의 서사극)
Brecht’s theatre therefore is anti-illusionist: that is, no effort is made to create an illusion of reality. Instead the stage becomes something of a lecture platform, a laboratory in which models of human behaviour are examined, tested and evaluated. Whereas the naturalists and Brecht concentrate on social reality, the external world, other playwrights, following Strindberg and also novelists of dream states like Kafka and Joyce, turned towards the representation of the world of fantasy and dream. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 65)

16 Theatre of the Absurd (부조리 극)
Theatre of the Absurd or Absurdist theatre . . . an absurdist play uses concretised poetic images which gradually unfold and disclose their deeper meaning. In the conventional realistic play, the main emphasis is on plot and character; in the Brechtian epic play it is on the demonstration of human behaviour patterns; in the absurdist play the main means of conveying significance and effect are image and metaphor. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 66)

17 Anton Chekhov(안톤 체홉, 1860-1904) Russian playwright
Four-act realistic plays The Cherry Orchard (1904) 『벚꽃 동산』 Three Sisters 『세자매』 Uncle Vanya 『반야삼촌』 The Seagull 『갈매기』

18 Chekhovian drama Chekhov uses the drama neither as a vehicle for individualistic self-realization (Ibsen) nor as a means of exorcistic self-expression (Strindberg) but rather as a form for depicting that fluid world beyond the self, with the author functioning only as an impartial witness. His plays reflect both his sympathy for human suffering and his outrage at human absurdity, alternating between moods of wistful pathos and flashes of ironic humor which disqualify them from being mere slices of life.

19 Chekhovian drama (continued)
For if Chekhov is a detached realist, permitting life to proceed according to its own rules, he is also an engaged moralist, arranging reality in a particular way in order to evoke some comment on it. . . . his conviction that ‘life as it is’ is life as it should not be. (Brustein, 1991: 138, 139)

20 Chekhovian drama (continued)
Chekhov will introduce political, social, and philosophical discussions into his work, because these are threads in the fabric of reality. But he is careful neither to take sides nor to hint at solutions. “It is the duty of the judge to put the questions to the jury correctly,” he observes, employing his favorite courtroom metaphor, “and it is for members of the jury to make up their minds, each according to his taste.” (Brustein, 1991: 145)

21 Chekhovian drama (continued)
Chekhov’s impersonality is a surface characteristic; and beneath this surface is a satiric, admonitory moralist . . . Chekhov the realist pretends to have no other aim than the faithful representation of reality; but Chekhov the moralist is always conscious of a higher purpose than mere imitation. (Brustein, 1991: 147)

22 Chekhovian drama (continued)
Chekhov’s revolt is directed against the quality of contemporary Russian life. (Brustein, 1991: 148) The conflict between the cultured upper classes and their stupefying environment – between the forces of light and the forces of darkness – provides the basic structure of most of Chekhov’s plays (Brustein, 1991: )

23 The Cherry Orchard (1904) premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre, directed by Constantin Stanislavski Chekhov intended this play as a comedy; however, Stanislavski directed it as a tragedy → the dual nature of the play has become a classic work of dramatic literature the play’s influence on many dramatists including Eugene O’Neill, Bernard Shaw, and Arthur Miller

24 The Cherry Orchard (1904) – synopsis
The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman (Madame Ranevskaya) and her family (including her 17-year old daughter Anya) as they return to the family’s estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. While presented with options to save the estate, the family essentially does nothing and the play ends with the estate being sold to the son of a former serf (Yermolai Lopakhin), and the family leaving to the sound of the cherry orchard being cut down.

25 The Cherry Orchard (1904) Act One opens in May when the cherry trees in the Ranevskaya orchard are blooming. Trofimov – a young student who acted as tutor to Ranevskaya’s son, Grisha, who drowned five years prior to the beginning of the play

26 The Cherry Orchard (1904) – themes
the effect social change has on people, the theme of identity, the themes of cultural futility – both the futility of the aristocracy to maintain its status and the futility of the bourgeoisie to find meaning in its newfound materialism. In reflecting the socio-economic forces at work in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, including the rise of the middle class after the abolition of serfdom in the mid-19th century (1861) and the sinking of the aristocracy, the play reflects forces at work around the globe in that period.

27 Oscar Wilde(오스카 와일드, 1854-1900) Irish-born English playwright, poet
comedy of manners (drawing-room comedy) a spokesman for the late 19th-century Aesthetic movement (Aestheticism) in England, which advocated art for art’s sake the object of celebrated civil and criminal suits involving homosexuality and ending in his imprisonment (1895–97).

28 Oscar Wilde’s Works his only novel:
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) 『도리언그레이 초상화』 comic masterpieces: Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) 『윈더미어부인의 부채』 An Ideal Husband (1895) 『이상적인 남편』 The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

29 Aestheticism (art movement)
late 19th-century European arts movement which centered on the doctrine that art exists for the sake of its beauty alone, and that it need serve no political, didactic, or other purpose. The movement began in reaction to prevailing utilitarian social philosophies and to what was perceived as the ugliness and philistinism of the industrial age.

30 Aestheticism (art movement)
Its philosophical foundations were laid in the 18th century by Immanuel Kant, who postulated the autonomy of aesthetic standards, setting them apart from considerations of morality, utility, or pleasure. It was popularized in France, and the philosopher Victor Cousin, who coined the phrase l’art pour l’art (“art for art’s sake”) in 1818.

31 Aestheticism (art movement)
the movement’s ideal: the cultivation of refined sensibility In England, the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (Dante Gabriel Rossetti, etc), from 1848, had sown the seeds of Aestheticism, and their work exemplified it in expressing a yearning for ideal beauty through conscious medievalism. The attitudes of the movement were also represented in the writings of Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater

32 Aestheticism (art movement)
Contemporary critics of Aestheticism included William Morris and John Ruskin, who questioned the value of art divorced from morality. Aestheticism shared certain affinities with the French Symbolist movement, fostered the Arts and Crafts Movement, and sponsored Art Nouveau.

33 art-for-art’s-sake a slogan translated from the French l’art pour l’art, which was coined in the early 19th century by the French philosopher Victor Cousin. The phrase expresses the belief held by many writers and artists, especially those associated with Aestheticism, that art needs no justification, that it need serve no political, didactic, or other end. (Britannica Online Encyclopedia)

34 The Dandy The original meaning of the word was a fop, someone ostentatiously well-dressed, and it tended to extend to smart ways of behaving and talking. A dandy looked elegant, was socially sophisticated, and knew it. On the other hand he showed no interest in matters of conscience or morality. (Jim Hunter, 2000: 18) ‘In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing’ (Gwendolen in Earnest, p. 345[69])

35 George Bernard Shaw (GBS) (조지 버나드 쇼, 1856-1950)
Irish-born English playwright Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925

36 George Bernard Shaw(1856-1950)
Shavian ‘play of ideas’ or thesis drama (사상극) – 영국의 지적인 희극 The Quintessence of Ibsenism (1890) plays unpleasant: Mrs Warren’s Profession (1902), etc. plays pleasant: Arms and the Man (1894) – farcical comedy, Candida (1897), etc. three plays for puritans: The Devil’s Disciple (1897), etc. Other major works: Man and Superman (1903), Major Barbara (1905), Pygmalion (1912) – an antitype of the popular Cinderella story, etc.

37 Shaw’s contribution Shaw, an Ibsenite, or a fervent apostle of Ibsen’s, grew to be the true colossus of the new theatre. He began his literary career as a novelist, working also as a critic of music and drama. The beginning of modern drama in England can be dated in 1890 when Shaw gave his lecture on ‘The Quintessence of Ibsenism’, which marks a watershed between traditionalism and new politicized forms of drama. (Innes, 2002: 3)

38 Shaw’s contribution Playwrights like Ibsen or Shaw attacked the social codes of their society; conventional drawing-room comedy probably reaffirmed the social code of the upper classes that formed its audience. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 29) Shaw’s brilliant and amusing demonstration of his socialist point of view contributed much to the rise of left-wing thinking in Britain and elsewhere. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 98)

39 Shaw’s contribution Shaw’s campaign to promote the ‘new’ drama
Transforming drama into a vehicle for ideas His preface and sense of ethical purpose provide a model for Edward Bond His intellectual comedy, and the verbal brilliance he shares with Wilde, look forward to Tom Stoppard (Innes, 2002: 51)

40 Pygmalion (1912) – My Fair Lady (1964)
an antitype of the popular Cinderella story

41 Pygmalion in Ovid’s Metamorphoses
오비디우스(Ovid)의『변형담』(Metamorphoses): 조각가 피그말리온이 자신이 이상으로 여기는 여인을 상아로 조각하여 그 상을 사랑하게 됨. 베누스 여신이 그의 기도에 응답, 이 상에 생명을 불어넣어 주었다 함.

42 G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion (1912) - synopsis
Based on Ovid’s tale of Pygmalion in Metamorphoses. It tells the story of Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, who makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can successfully pass off a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, as a refined society lady by teaching her how to speak with an upper class accent and training her in etiquette. In the process, Higgins and Doolittle grow close, but she ultimately rejects his domineering ways and declares she will marry Freddy – a young, poor, gentleman.

43 Pygmalion (1912) – the first production
His Majesty’s Theatre, London on April 11, 1914 Starring Mrs Patrick Campbell as Eliza and Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree as Henry Higgins It was directed by Shaw himself.

44 J. M. Synge (존 밀링턴 싱, 1871-1909) Irish playwright
Folklore collector, Irish Literary Revival, Co-founder of the Abbey Theatre Riders to the Sea (1904) 『바다로간 기수들』 The Playboy of the Western World (1907) 『서쪽나라의 바람둥이』

45 Riders to the Sea (1904) A one-act tragedy, the play is set in the Aran Islands, and like all of Synge's plays it is noted for capturing the poetic dialogue of rural Ireland. Synge's plays helped set the Abbey house style for the following four decades. The stylised realism of his writing and plays of peasant life were the main staple of the repertoire until the end of the 1950s.

46 Synge’s Legacy and Influence
Sean O'Casey, the next major dramatist to write for the Abbey Theatre, knew Synge's work well and attempted to do for the Dublin working classes what his predecessor had done for the rural poor. Brendan Behan indebted to Synge. Samuel Beckett was a regular audience member at the Abbey in his youth and particularly admired the plays of Yeats, Synge and O'Casey.

47 Riders to the Sea (1904) – plot synopsis
Maurya has lost her husband, father-in-law, and five sons to the sea. As the play begins Nora and Cathleen receive word that a body that may be their brother Michael has washed up on shore in Donegal, far to the north. Bartley is planning to sail to Connemara to sell a horse, and ignores Maurya's pleas to stay. As he leaves, he leaves gracefully. Maurya predicts that by nightfall she will have no living sons, and her daughters chide her for sending Bartley off with an ill word.

48 Riders to the Sea (1904) – plot synopsis
Maurya goes after Bartley to bless his voyage, and Nora and Cathleen receive clothing from the drowned corpse that confirms it as their brother. Maurya returns home claiming to have seen the ghost of Michael riding behind Bartley and begins lamenting the loss of the men in her family to the sea, after which some villagers bring in the corpse of Bartley, who has fallen off his horse into the sea and drowned.

49 Luigi Pirandello (루이지 피란델로, 1867-1936)
Italian playwright Nobel Prize in Literature (1934) Metadrama | 메타연극 Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) 『작가를 찾는 6인의 등장인물』 Satirical tragi-comedy

50 Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921)
In modern drama, playwrights have become more conscious than ever of the potential of that tension between illusion and reality, fact and fiction, in the theatrical experience. Pirandello used it in Six Characters in Search of an Author by going so far as to show us the actors as they really are as private individuals assembled for a rehearsal, then the characters as imagined by the author, and then these characters as portrayed by those actors. (Martin Esslin, 1976: 91)

51 Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) (continued)
a movement in the early 20th century called theatricalism or anti-illusionism. rejected realist drama and substituted the dreamlike, the expressive, and the symbolic. disapproved of realism because it had abandoned the defining tools of drama, such as poetry, interaction between actors and audience, soliloquies, asides and bare stages. The theatricalists thought realism could not depict the inner life of human beings.

52 Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) (continued)
The play demonstrates these ideas in several ways. The focus of the play is on the interactions of the six characters with the real actors in the theater. This suggests that human beings cannot distinguish between the real and the apparent – the distinction itself is illusory. “Reality” is merely what one happens to believe in at the moment. The Father character argues that fictional characters are more “real” than living ones, since they are fixed eternally, while a living person is constantly changing and subject to time.

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