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Realism and Theatre in the 20 th Century. What is realism? Realism is a genre or style of theatre/film that seeks to portray life as it is. Using actual set pieces, actual props, actual clothing and speech patterns from daily life.

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Realism and Theatre in the 20 th Century

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realism and theatre in the 20 th century
Realism and Theatre in the 20th Century
  • What is realism?
    • Realism is a genre or style of theatre/film that seeks to portray life as it is. Using actual set pieces, actual props, actual clothing and speech patterns from daily life.
    • For example a play takes place in a dorm room then there would be a bed, a wooden desk, books, scattered clothing, etc.
    • The actor would wear jeans, t – shirt, etc.
Realism is different from Elizabethan theatre in several ways:
    • Sets in Elizabethan theatre are representational and minimal. While sets in realism are elaborate and true to the place.
    • Actors in Elizabethan theatre declare their lines to the audience in a loud, announcer voice. In Realism, the actors speak in a normal, everyday pattern, to each other not the audience.
    • The language of Elizabethan theatre is mainly flowery verse and it is written in long declarative speeches. The language of Realistic theatre is every day prose speech and is written in dialogue form. It is very conversational.
    • Elizabethan theatre is often about fantasy/ fictional situations. Realism is ordinary people/situations.
Realism began in Europe. It had it’s start with playwrights such has Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekhov.
  • Ibsen was German and Chekhov was Russian.
  • Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House, and Chekhov wrote The Seagulls and The Cherry Orchard.
  • Both men wrote plays about ordinary people.
  • Their themes were about social and political upheaval.
  • A Doll’s House is about Sexism and women’s rights.
  • Chekhov’s plays are all about the social upheaval because of the Russian revolution.
konstantin stansilavski
Konstantin Stansilavski
  • 1863 – 1938
  • Stanislavski was born to a wealthy merchant family in Moscow. A family that supported the arts and his endeavors.
  • He began his career at an early age in a theatre company supported by his family.
  • In 1897 he co – founded the Moscow Art Theatre with Vladimir Danchenko.
  • It was at this theatre he developed his acting “system” which became the basis for virtually all acting instruction in the Western world in the 20th century.
the system
The System
  • Stanislavski developed n acting style he called the system.
  • This system instructed actors to use their “affective memory” to naturally portray a character’s emotions.
  • Affective memory is to think of a time in their own lives when they felt the desired emotion and replay it in their mind to give a genuine performance.
  • This system makes actors work from inside out
Stanislavski continued to change and develop his “system” his whole life.
  • He felt that developing the art of acting should be an ongoing process with no right or wrong way.
  • He wrote three books:
    • An Actor Prepares, Building A Character and Creating A Role.
    • “Create your own method don’t depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you.”
stanislavski in the us
Stanislavski in the US
  • Stanislavski’s system came to the US and influenced every generation of acting since the 1930’s.
  • His influence was first felt at the Group Theatre in the 1930’s.
  • Then it was changed and developed by a man named Lee Strasberg first at the Group Theatre and then at the Actors Studio, in the 1950’s.
lee strasberg
Lee Strasberg
  • Strasberg was born in Hungary in 1901.
  • He became a US citizen in 1936.
  • In 1931 he started the Group Theatre with Harold Clurman and Cheryl Crawford.
Due to internal conflicts over acting theories the Group Theatre disbanded in 1941.
  • Strasberg joined the Actor’s Studio in 1949 as an instructor.
  • By 1952 he was the artistic and managing director.
  • Strasberg’s “method” relies very heavily on modern psychology and pushes the actor to become the character and experience all the character’s experiences.
This method can be dangerous to actors creating psychological problems and potential physical harm.
  • Strasberg taught this method at the Actor’s Studio both in NY and in LA.
  • His students include many of the biggest stars of the 20th century: Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Ellen Burstyn.
stella adler
Stella Adler
  • Stella Adler was an actress at the Group Theatre.
  • She was the only member of the Group or the Actor’s Studio that actually worked with Stanislavski.
Stella spent a summer in France working with Stanislavski.
  • When she returned she said that “they had it all wrong.” By the time she worked with Stanislavski, he had changed some of his ideas and moved along.
  • Stella broke from group and began her own studio.
  • Stella was much more taken with given circumstances and working with the words and situations the author gives us.