theatre history

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Last updated: November 26, 2019

Walter Pater
19th centuryHe was an english essayist from Oxford and critic of art and literature who had a profound influence on Oscar Wilde.The principles of what would be known as the Aesthetic Movement were partly traceable to him.

Pater felt that life should become a work of art. He practiced aestheticism and was influenced by the slogan “Art for Art’s Sake.”

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Andre Antoine
19th centuryfounded the Theatre Libre in Paris in 1887. Antoine popularized theatrical realism (the illusion of a fourth wall so that audiences would feel as if they were peering into everyday life). • Use of box sets, which were filed with practicable elements.

• Motivated lighting He extinguished the house lights to focus the audience’s attention on the stage. • He transformed French stage acting through resisting the star system (using well known actors) through organizing a company of amateur actors who worked to create ensemble performances. This technique prohibited the lead to overshadow supporting characters and the actors to appear living rather than acting onstage.• Also opposed conventional gestures, vocal patterns, and blocking sold subscriptions to develop loyal audiences and financial support. He left the Theatre Libre in 1894 (in financial trouble), and founded the Theatre Antoine three years later.

Given circumstances (Stanislavski Method
early 20th centuryThe performer must specifically conceive of the situation or circumstances in which a character exists in concrete terms. These must be analyzed and formalized before an actor goes on stage.

Psychophysical actions
early 20th centuryStanislavski methodRather than seeing emotions as leading to action, purposeful action undertaken to fulfill a character’s goals was the most direct route to the desired emotions.

Sarah Siddons
18th centurywas considered the greatest tragic actress England had ever seenclassical acting styledignified, carefully planned, detailed performances that influenced English theater for decades. sister of Kemble

David Garrick
18th centuryoften recognized as an early director because he oversaw the entire production processstyle was extremely natural compared to the declamatory speech and studied gestures typical of his time. He often based his characters on life, visiting markets and law courts to study people. equally good in comedy and tragedymanagement of Drury Lane and therefore was responsible for artistic decisions, . Banished spectators from stage. Historically accurate and appropriate costuming, masked stage lighting.

Emotional recall
Nineteenth Centuryactor’s ability to recall an experience from his past and re-live the experience on stage. First developed by Stanislavsky and reinterpreted by Strasberg. call on the memory of details from a situation similar to those of their characters

Denouement
Nineteenth Century. The moment when suspense is finally satisfied used to refer to the working out of the resolution in a well-made play.

Bayreuth Festspielhaus
19th centurytheaterRichard Wagner innovative design continental seating special effects, stem jets were built on the forestage.

Ghosts
late 19th centuryplay by Ibsenrealistic plays explore the interaction of people with society, dealing with such problems as unhappy marriages, the sexual double standard, infidelity, and the position of womenfrank in their treatment of controversial subject matterprovoked angry debate individual amid conflicting social pressures.

The Abbey Theater
Nineteenth Century. Also known as the Irish National theatreIrish brothers W.G.Fay and Frank Fayfounding was Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and W.B.

Yeats

Melodrama
late 18th and early 19th centuryBackground music accompanied these plays, a premium was put on surface effectscommon theme was an apparent conflict between good and evil where virtue was always victoriousmost popular is Uncle Tom’s Cabinuse of stock characters or easily identifiable archetypes that have repeatedly appeared in theater over timeMelodrama actors would also be type cast and would play the same stock character repeatedly

Nemirovich-Danchenko
late 19th centuryplaywright and director of the drama school the Moscow Philharmonic Societyinvited Stanislavski to join him in forming the Moscow Art Theatre, which was dedicated to realismresponsible for the literary and administrative duties convince Checkov to let the Moscow Art Theater to present The Sea Gull

The Seagull
late 19th centuryplay by Chekovfirst performed two years previously to its successful debut at the Moscow Art Theater in Saint Petersburg where it was an absolute disasterwas extraordinarily innovativedid not have stock charactershad indirect action and character developmentheightened the realism of the play but posed a challenge to actors

Emile Zola
late 19th centurywho set forth a program for naturalism in theaterextreme form of realismmost famous proponent of naturalismespoused the idea of scientific objectivity, the idea that an artist should present a picture of the real world without making his or her own presence feltwrote Terese Raquin

Ira Aldridge
19th centuryone of the leading Shakespearean actors of the nineteenth centurywon wide praise and recognition in Europebegan acting with the African Grove Theatre. The African Grove was the first formal black theatre company in Americafirst black man to play Othellopoor prospects as an actor in the US, he decided to try to further his career in Europe

Lekain
18th centurydistinguished french actor in the Comedie Francaiseperformer that experimented with costuming that was supposedly appropriate for the character’s social position, nationality, and historical erarejected the bombastic style of acting for a more natural approachtried to create natural, individualized characterizations, though they were not in the mainstream

Clairon
18th centurybecame one of the finest actresses of the Comedie Francaise by the force of her own wilintelligent and industrious preparation on her craft rather than inspirationstudied performerarchrival was Dumesnil who was praised for her natural talent and who relied on inspiration of the moment would give more consistently excellent performancesAs her career developed she developed a less declamatory, natural speaking style and became interested in historical accuracy.

Madame Vestris
19th centuryactress-managermajor innovation in staging played at the Drury Lane and Covent Garden theatersfamous for her Breeches roles credited with introducing the box set to theater, complete with ceiling and adornments like real (as opposed to painted) doorknobs, dishes, rugs, etc.also maintained strict control over her acting company

The Saxe-Meiningen Company
19th centuryconsidered one of the first modern directorsdrilled his company carefully and thoroughly and was famous for the crowd scenes he organized on stageproductions were visually stunninghistorical accuracy lavish sums of rich fabrics and authentic decorno star system

Steele Mackaye
19th centurynoted playwright and innovative technologist used two stages, one above the other, which could be raised and lowered; while one stage was in view of the audience, the scenery on the other (which was either in the basement or in the fly area) could be changed.

Romanticism
19th century dramaInfluenced by the storm and stress movementrejected Neoclassical rulesused Shakespeare structural techniques: their plays were episodic and epic in scopemore interested in creating mood and atmosphere than in developing believable plots of depth of characterall subject matter-the grotesque as well as the ideal- appropriate for the stageGoethe’s Faust and Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck are examples of Romantic plays.

Cyclorama
Nineteenth Century. Large curved drop used to mask the rear and sides of the stage; painted a neutral color or blue to represent sky or open space (create the illusion of sky onstage). It may also be a permanent stage fixture made of plaster or a similar durable material.

Steele MacKaye invented this and sliding stages for St. Louis World Fair in 1892. It was popularized in the German theater of the 19th century and continues in common usage today in theaters throughout the world.

Naturalism
Nineteenth Centurymovement that began in France and spread to other European countriesubdivision of realism – an extreme form. It did not last long but some of its ideas appeared frequently in later dramas Emile Zola is one of the most famous proponents what should be presented on stage is a “slice of life.

” The most appropriate subject matter for drama was the lower class – they called attention to social problems

The Lower Depths
Nineteenth Century. Maksim Gorky’s play The Lower Depths presents characters who have sunk to the bottom of Russian societyIt was produced by the Moscow Art Theatre and Stanislavsky directed and starred.

Olga Knipper
married Chekov in 20th centurywas an actress and one of the original members of the Moscow Art Theatre when it was formed by Stanislavskyin many of Chekov’s plays

Weimar
18th centurycourt in which Goethe accepted position as director of the theatrebecame friends with Friedrich Schiller and together they transformed Weimar – Schiller with his plays and Goethe with his staging. They believed that drama should transcend ordinary experience and reveal ideal truth. It was at the Weimar that he made many directional innovations for which he is remembered.

Théatre Libre
“free theatre”; present in the late 19th century• Founded in Paris in 1887 by André Antoine• Concerned with realism and naturalism, primarily putting on works by Zola, Ibsen, and Becque• Exempt from government censorship due to the subscription methods originated by Antoine• Plays made use of the fourth wall, motivated lighting, realistic acting techniques, and an ensemble cast rather than the star system• Critics thought this movement was “obscene” but when Theatre Libre went on tour, Europe began to take notice and was influenced by this

Continental seating
Invented by Richard Wagner for his Bayreuth Festspielhaus in Germany in 1876 (19th century)• This seating did not emphasize class distinctions; originally it was 1,300 individual seats in 30 raked rows that formed a fan-shaped auditorium and boxes in rear balcony• Price was the same for every seat• It set the pattern for modern auditoriums

Carlo Goldoni
Italian author in 18th century theatre (1707-1793)• Former lawyer/son of a doctor; Goldoni a member of the rising middle class, reflected in his plays• Notably, he wrote scenarios for the Commedia dell’ Arte troupe and moved these scenarios into fully scripted works• Wanted theatre to be more realistic; discouraged use of masks and improv; less vulgarity• Famous works include: The Mistress of the Inn, The Venetian Twins, Momoló Courtesan, and The Servant of Two Masters

The well-made play
Structure of many popular melodramas in the 19th century• Emphasizes a cause-and-effect development that is tightly constructed and often revolved around a secret about one of the characters• A number of playwrights used this to focus on more realistic and socially relevant subject matter• The logical causal structure and this growing interest in social issues went on to inspire Ibsen and the dramatic realism movement

Storm and stress
German movement in the late 18th century, where playwrights rebelled against neoclassical ideals of clear-cut morality and bourgeois tragedy• Rejected dramatic rules of the time, and emulated Shakespeare’s episodic structure, mixing of genre, and presenting onstage violence• These plays were radical in subject and style, but the movement became a forerunner of 19th century romanticism• Prominent figures included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (but this is pre-Faust) and Friedrich Schiller

The Independent Theatre Society
Also called “The English Independent Theatre”; founded in 1891 (late 19th century) by critic Jacob Thomas Grein• Operated in London, under subscription to prevent censorship• Similar to Germany’s Freie Buhne: hired professional actors, leased professional theatres, performed on Sundays• Grein wanted to introduce realists/naturalists like Ibsen and Zola to the public• Introduced/hired Irish writer George Bernard Shaw (author of Pygmalion) who premiered his first play with them; he went on to success after the Independent Theatre closed in 1897

Edwin Booth
19th century actor, known as America’s finest for his portrayal of Hamlet; also had innovations in staging and modern scenic design• Built his own theatre in 1869; abandoned wing-and-groove method of scene shift and raked stage; instead used heavy set pieces and freestanding scenery• Introduced the elevator stage for raising/lowering sets• One of the first American actors to achieve international fame• Actor-manager of the Booth Theatre• Emphasized historical accuracy in his play’s sets and costumes

Anna Cora Mowatt
19th century playwright and actress, most noted for her popular play Fashion• This play lasted for 18 performances, a record at the time• One of the first American social comedies, which advocated American sensibility instead of imitation of foreign fashions; brought some esteem to the American theatre at the time• Created classic American archetypes of Yankee, French maid, American hero, African American servant, etc.• Mowatt’s debut as an actress demonstrated that a woman of high social standing could appear onstage without destroying her reputation

Thérése Raquin
Naturalist drama written by Émile Zola in 1881• Initially could not be performed due to it’s content and the censorship• Zola treated the piece as a “study of temperaments, not characters” making it naturalistic• About a young woman who has an affair, and her and her lover drown her husband

Drame
18th century term coined by Denis Diderot, which was a new form of play• Any serious play that did not fit the neo-classical definition of tragedy; often about people in the middle class and called bourgeois or middle-class tragedies• Offered moral and philosophical conclusions• The London Merchant is a famous example of early middle-class tragedy• Many critics believe that modern realistic tragedy evolved from the drame’s emphasis on family problems and social concerns

“magic if”
Part of Stanislavskian Technique• Idea about how to achieve a sense of inner truth• The word “if” is used to imagine ourselves in virtually any situation and gives us certainty about imaginary circumstances

Box set
Originated most probably as early as the late Italian Renaissance• Landmark achievement that revolutionized realistic staging movement most prominent in the 19th century (introduced by Booth to a wider audience)• An arrangement in which flats are cleated together at angles (rather than set up parallel to the audience) to form the three-dimensional walls of a room

Richard Brindsley Sheridan
Best known English comedy writer of the late 18th century; also a successful theatre manager and later, a politician• Took over running Drury Lane after David Garrick’s retirement• Wrote several plays for Drury Lane, notably The School for Scandal which is considered the best comedy of manners since the Restoration due to its recognizable character types and comic love intrigues• Also wrote The Critic, one of the most famous literary burlesques• His comedies ridiculed the follies of society, an idea reflected in the works of later playwrights Wilde and Shaw

Gesamtkunstwerk
19th century term coined by Richard Wagner• A unified operatic work of art in which all elements (including music, words, story, scenery, the costumes, orchestra, etc) form a total piece

The Stanislavsky Method
Originated by Konstantin Stanislavski in the late 19th century• Set of techniques for and theories about acting that promotes a realistic style stressing psychological gestures and emotional truth as opposed to conventional theatricality• Prior to the 19th century, no one had ever created a distinct method by which true-to-life believability could be achieved onstage (though certainly some past actors had achieved it individually)

J.T. Grein
Late 19th and early 20th century Dutch-born theatre critic• Founded the English Independent Theatre which operated in London for 6 years• His goal was to introduce realists and naturalists like Ibsen and Zola to the public

Sarah Bernhardt
actress who, along with Eleonora Duse, dominated the international stage in the latter part of the 19th century• Called “Madame Sarah”; was flamboyant and eccentric• Made her debut in the Comédie Française and had a stormy relationship with that company for 18 years• Master of stage technique• Also managed theatres in Paris and wrote poetry/plays• Modeled her acting on the “grand style” of the 19th century whereas her rival foreshadowed the realism of the 20th century

Laura Keene
British actress who distinguished herself as a successful woman in the competitive business of theatre management during the 19th century in the United States• Acted briefly in the company of actress-manager Madame Vestris• Coached in acting by James Wallack in NYC and was a favorite of NY audiences• Left Wallack’s company to manage the Charles Street Theatre in Baltimore• Opened her own theatre in New York and was the first woman to run a large, first-class NY theatre (though she was met with opposition from rival male managers)• Theatre gained a reputation for scenic splendor; she popularized matinee performances and long runs of successful plays• Her prominence as a manager inspired several other women to enter the field

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