THE-2000 Lecture 11: Theatre and Social Change

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17 Sep 2018
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Theatre and Social Change
The Theatre, when it is good, is always dangerous
-Hallie Flanagan
Social Drama = theatre for social change
Characteristics
o Individual vs. Society conflict, one vs. society at large or social ideas
o Social ills face off with problems in society
o Question of morality at some point one of the main characters will be put between
good and evil, right and wrong, morality of individual vs. morality of society
Famous example: Odets Waiting for Lefty
Examples:
Greek Theatre
August Wilson and the Pittsburgh Cycle
Uncle Toms Cabin
Amiri Baraka (Dutchman)
Lorraine Hansberry (Raisin in the sun)
Arthur Miller (Death of a salesman)
Los Vendidos
Other stuff
Some movements that feature Theatre for Social Change abroad
Realism
Responses to realism
o Dada
o Absurdism
o Epic Theatre
Realism
Setting the stage for Realism
Industrial Revolution (1780-1830/50s)
o Steam Powered Ships
o Railroad
o Electricity
o Urbanization as opposed to the agrarian beforehand
Rise of tenement housing, class system, shitty work, lack of independence
Strikes and rebellions
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Iconoclasts
o Marx communist manifesto, capitalism is destined for failure, proletariat must rise up
o Freud- psychoanalysis, theories of unconscious mind, oedipal complex, framed
psychologically real characters
o Darwin natural selection, how people understand the world now
Sociology (Auguste Compte) study of society
Realism Mid-19th century and on
A lot of modern theatre is still realism
“Truth” a representation of reality, though author is still controlling it, still totally contrived
The 4th wall imaginary invisible wall at front of a stage, barrier between audience and actors
o Breaking the 4th wall
Middle class characters
Social Problems and Questions
o Nature vs. Nurture what causes actions and personality, what are you born with or
how are you reacting? Responsibility for actions?
Long term effect on theatre
Example: House, M.D. creates reality in a way that makes it exciting
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) The Father of Realism
o “A Doll House (1879) married woman, man does not treat her as a person but a child,
a toy, or a doll. She takes life as her own, she leaves.
The door slam heard around the world as woman leaves her husband and
children, something that was never done
Responses to Realism Begin with social and economic disaster
World War I (1914-1918) the “war to end all wars”
Economic Depression (1920s and 30s) both in US and Europe
World War II (1939-1945) another war to end all wars
Dada (1916-1919)
“Art is a private affair. The artist produces it for himself. An intelligible work is the product of a
journalist
-Tristan Tzara
Zurich, Switzerland
Duchamps Fountain took a urinal and put his name on it, called it art, question arose of what
art was
Characteristics
o Mockery of “High Art” why is it that someone can decide what is art, the individual
decides what is art, Duchamp scribbled Moustache and goatee on Mona Lisa
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