EUROPEAN THEATRE 1640-1930 An Overview
Closing of the Theatres by Puritans • On the 6th of September, 1642, the theaters were closed by ordinance, it being considered not seemly to indulge in any kind of diversions or amusements in such troublous times. In 1647 another and more imperative order was issued, in consequence of certain infractions of the previous one, threatening to imprison and punish as rogues all who broke its enactments • Close upon the heels of this second came a third, which declared all players to be rogues and vagabonds, and authorized the justices of the peace to demolish all stage galleries and seats; any actor discovered in the exercise of his vocation should for the first offense be whipped, for the second be treated as an incorrigible rogue, and every person found witnessing the performance of a stage play should be fined five shillings. • FROM 1642 onward for eighteen years, the theaters of England remained nominally closed. There was of course evasion of the law; but whatever performances were offered had to be given in secrecy, before small companies in private houses, or in taverns located three or four miles out of town. No actor or spectator was safe, especially during the early days of the Puritan rule. Least of all was there any inspiration for dramatists
The Restoration • In 1660 the Stuart dynasty was restored to the throne of England. Charles II, the king, had been in France during the greater part of the Protectorate, together with many of the royalist party, all of whom were familiar with Paris and its fashions. Thus it was natural, upon the return of the court, that French influence should be felt, particularly in the theater. In August, 1660, Charles issued patents for two companies of players, and performances immediately began. Certain writers, in the field before the civil war, survived the period of theatrical eclipse, and now had their chance. Among these were Thomas Killigrew and William Davenant, who were quickly provided with fine playhouses. • Women appeared on stage regularly • Plays took on French Court style in proscenium theatres for the upper classes • Shakespeare’s Plays were “improved upon” to make happy endings and larger roles for lead actors.
Restoration and 18th Century Playwrights • John Dryden- “All for Love” 1678 • William Congreve- “The Way of the World” 1700 • John Gay - “The Beggars Opera” 1765 • Oliver Goldsmith -”She Stoops to Conquer” 1773 • Richard Brinsley Sheridan “The Rivals” 1776 and “School for Scandal” 1773 • David Garrick • Edmund Kean
The Actor Manager David Garrick Edmund Kean The 19th Century saw the rise of the actor manager at Drury Lane and Covent Garden. Garrick and Kean were the premier actors of their day and considered two of the greatest actors ever. Garrick brought back the original versions of Shakespeare and is probably responsible for saving his work for all following generations.
MODERN EUROPEAN THEATRE 1840’S TO 1950
HENRIK IBSEN OF NORWAY • The father of Modern Drama • Largely responsible for Realism in theatre • Plays: Ghosts, A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck • Early proponant of women’s rights and equality
George Bernard Shaw of England • Was an ardent early socialist and plays reflect this position • Plays were social comedies like “Major Barbara” and “Man and Superman” • Most famous plays portrayed man as being driven by a life force and destined to fit a predesigned role in the social order. But that all should contribute. • “Pygmalion” Later done as “My Fair Lady” musical” • “Saint Joan”, +Candida,” “Androcles and the Lion”, “Arms and the Man” • Great adimirer of Ibsen and copied format and realistic style
Anton Checkhov 1860-1904 • Was a doctor, a celebrated short story author and finally a great dramatist in Russia. • Wrote for the Moscow Art Theatre and Stanislavski • “Cherry Orchard”, “Uncle Vanya”, “The Sea Gull,” and “Three Sisters” are most famous plays. • Plays are called comedies but convey tragic surroundings
Other Major Playwrights • Germany • Hauptmann, Goethe, Brecht, Schiller Durrenmatt • Italy- • Luigi Pirandello • Spain - • Garcia Lorca • France- • Dumas, Anouilh, Sartre, Cocteau, Artaud, Beckett, Ionesco, Feydeau, Rostand
Bertolt Brecht Jean Anoulh Samuel Becket Sean Paul Sartre Luigi Pirandello Federico Garcia Lorca
Constantin Stanislavski • Creator of “The Method” acting formula • Actor should search inside himself and his own personal emotional memories for clues to character. • Magic If