May naturalism in the theatre die! ~ Evgeny Vakhtangov Modernism Notes @ Theatre with Anatoly, script analysis
2008 --


Modernism, Art Nouveau *
"Beauty is all very well at first sight; but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?" -- George Bernard Shaw * MODERNISM'05: THR413 Playscript Analysis
links: Artaud: Theatre of Cruelty

Manifestos (see Dada/Futurism Pages)




Notes for THR 413 class Playscript Analysis (we start this course with modernism) and THR 215 Dramatic Literature (we end with modernism).
THR 215 -- brown color texts (no way, see subdirectories, new).

20th Century Decades America

M. Chekhov -- Acting One: Fundamentals

MODERNISM AND THE IDEA OF THE AVANT-GARDE: what makes a Modernist? End of the nineteenth century reinterpretations of the realist project: the late plays of Ibsen and Strindberg; Maeterlink, Wilde and the rise of 'symbolism'; an illustrative art-history on acetate of the impact of new ideas of representation in painting: 'The Shock of the New' (I) - realism, naturalism, impressionism and symbolism. [ My focus is Chekhov, strating point for XX c. ]


* "MANUFACTURING THE MYTH OF PROGRESS": futurism in Italy: Marinetti, manifestos and the denial of symbolism; Italian futurist plays; futurism in Russia: Mayakovsky; Meyerhold's modernist break with Stanislavsky and naturalism, and the development of constructivism in the theatre; illustrative art-history on acetate: futurist and constructivist paintings.

* WAR AND THE EXPLOSION OF THE MYTH OF PROGRESS: the post-war modernist reaction: Tzara, Ball, Richter, et al; dada: subversion, iconoclasm, nihilism, and the celebration of nonsense; the decline of dada and the rise of surrealism: Breton's manifestos; the search for revolutionary self-awareness: the arrival of Antonin Artaud; illustrative art-history on acetate: dada collages and surrealist paintings. dramatic theory [ I like the 14 weeks strusture in this UK course ]

* ARTAUD AND CRUELTY: the ideas and work of the theatrical visionary, Antonin Artaud; the theatre of cruelty: ritual, primitivism, spectacle; Artaud's influence on Brook; an 'Artaudian' playwright: Jean Genet. + POST-WAR EXPRESSIONISM: the expressionist experiment continued: Bruckner in Germany and Treadwell in America; the influence of expressionism on early Brecht.

* BRECHT, MARXISM AND MODERNISM: how is Brecht a modernist? How is Brecht a marxist? The importance of the aesthetic and political disputes between the modernists and the marxists; Brecht's work in theory and in practice.

I teach Theatre Classes (for more theory take Engl. or Philosophy or other classes)... Every time I teach "drama" classes, I move further away from lectures and even from the seminar's format. I wish it could be taught as WORKSHOPS, when actors, directors, designers, writers could experiment with the different styles of theatre. The "writing segment" I introduced recently at the end of the course is an expression of this thought.

* 2005 updates (subdirectories: 215 and 413)!

Use of Scientific method (method of observation & hypothesis to suggest solutions to problems) * and revolt against it!

Darwin: Evolution of Species in 1856, survival of fittest, humankind in evolutionary process, importance of heredity
Marx: Scientific method in economics, politics. All human behavior analyzed in terms of class struggle, good/services
Freud: Scientific method in study of human behavior, psychology; what motivates people to behave like they do; also interest in interior personality, dreams.

Ibsen and Early Modernist Theatre, 1890-1900 by Kirsten Shepherd-Barr; Greenwood Press, 1997

Twentieth-Century Theatre: A Sourcebook by Richard Drain; Routledge, 1995

... Ms. Julie

Modernism is a cultural movement that generally includes progressive art and architecture, music and literature which emerged in the decades before 1914, as artists rebelled against late 19th century academic and historicist traditions. [see wikipedia:]

attention to The explosion of modernism 1910–1930 and Modernism's second generation (1930-1945) + Modernism after the Second World War (1945-)

Modern art - Symbolism (arts) - Impressionism - Expressionism - Cubism - Surrealism - Dadaism - Futurism

20th century - Modernity - Existentialism

...Preceded by Romanticism (?)

"These ideas at first owed much to symbolism. The symbolists saw theatre as a potential crucible in which the arts of poetry, painting, music and dance might be harmoniously fused. Then it might manifest the dreams and yearnings of human life, freed from Its mere material conditions. Such ideas predate modernism proper, and are largely reserved for Part IV of this volume. But the vital part played by this early movement in establishing the artistic credentials of theatre cannot be entirely passed over here; for this is the base from which much theatrical modernism operates. Hence the inclusion here of Adolphe Appia and Gordon Craig. Appia is a crucial pioneer, seeking a theatre sensitive to ‘the spirit of music’, and a stage that could offer equivalent qualities of rhythm, tone and harmony in the unfolding movement of its actors in a space architecturally conceived, the whole freely moulded and accented by the play of variegated lighting. Such considerations were not only foreign to theatres of the time, but impossible to realise without a wholesale rethinking of current stage practice, and indeed equipment. Appia carried this through, preparing the way for Craig and others, and implicitly introducing the stage to the concept of abstract form." [ Richard Drain; Routledge, 1995 * Twentieth-Century Theatre: A Sourcebook, link -- bottom, right ]
- Part I: The Modernist Dimension - Introduction - 1: Alfred Jarry - 2: Adolphe Appia - 3: Gordon Craig ( biblio, books and, also, see history of theatre directing)

Strindberg - Theatre Books

Review on Modernism

2004: 20th Century Page -- Modernism Timeline 1890-1940 (AmLit)
"... They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields..."
20th Century = Crisis of Moderninty: view from the top -- back (THR215) and to the transition to postmodern (THR413)
[Definition] Chronology: 16th century (Shakespeare and Galileo), French and American Revolutions, High Modernity (turn of the century). How and why did we move into Postmodern (the Crisis of Ideology of modernism) From The Age of Revolution to the turn of the century (short historical overview).

Last 100 years of Modernism (high modernity): Re-Definitions. Modernism as a style. Where is the borderline?

Texts (413): * Albee, Williams, *Pinter, *Fugard, Chekhov pages, Brecht, Ibsen: similarities and differences (* are not in 215).
Two World Wars. The Cold War -- Pomo. Postmodern and Post-Pomism (from POV Files).

Old Themes: family, man and woman, I and the World (freedom, self-liberation)
Existential themes: no human nature (marxism), no essence, self-construct. Variations of socialist concepts. Including the present day formations.

Relations with time: past and present. Promising Future Arrived. Second look at the Idea of Progress

How do they look now those Six Principles of Aristotle? (See Shows Director's Notes)


1. New plots (New stories)

2. New Hero! (Inner conflict)

3. New Ideology (Society and Individual)


4. Language (Realism)

5. Melody (Style)

6. Spectacle (New Theatre) Revolutions in Theatricality;
The Age of Directors. "Director's Theatre" Concept (Meyerhold).

SELF and its double. Our postmodern problematics. The weakness came out of the strength of the modernist ideology: humanism. The End of Man. (Fudjimoto "The End of History" and Hegel)

Different nature of dramatic complications: self-discovery, self-revelation.
Limitations of the modern (After the atomic age). Alienation and subjectivity in its extremes. (A-Effect in Epic Theatre, see Brecht page).

What is the postmodern?

Loytard: The Postmodern Condition (1979, engl. 1984), Just Gaming (1985; orig. 1979), The Difference (1988; orig. 1983). Later -- Foucault, Deleuse, Baudliard, Virilio.

No universal theory, no hierarchy, no common values, but plurality, multiplicity, horizontal connections. (Aftershocks of the revolution in science and technology).

The end of history (American Age), no progress? What is the new vision of "progress"? Principle of Uncertanty.

(New physics: Q Mechanics, Relativity), New Technology (Hiedegger) and new social conditions (globalism) (McLuhan).

(Refereneces: TECH (Theology of Technology). Did you read directory POV (Point of view or Viewpoints, film site) Pomo, drafts/chapters for Post-American Book -- Index). For students who want to know too much. Not required for your tests (even in film classes).


(How to discuss/produce today; samples -- "Woolf" and "Reckless." Postmortems as post-production meetings. Trust the two: plays and audience. How to analyze? What is there for us? Can't arrive to the grounds of discussion -- the ideas. What is the whole thing about? Why do we put it on? To look at ourselves.)

POMO -- Theatre is missing 20 years of the recent major critical theories:

1. Foucault (knowledge/power, disciplines)
2. Baudrillard (simulacra), nihilism.
3. Derrida (de-construction),
4. Deleuze (society of control), rhizome
5. Virilio (dromology), military principle.

(Notes @ Theology of Technology)

Pirandello MetaTheatre
Six Characters in Search of an Author

413. Shepard (Genre -- drama); modern and pm elements. American version. "West and Western" and American urbanism (Mamet).

Note for myself: how to separate 215 notes for students from 413? In Dramatic Literature class my throughline is the evolution of dramatic principles (Aristotle) from Oedipus to modern drama. Transformation of the concepts -- action, character and etc. In Playscript Analysis (THR 413) the territory is the modern and postmodern organization of drama. Since we are the citizens of postmodernity, students ask many pomo questions, view from the bridge "Today" -- I can't resist and answer them.


* The page must be updated! (important to understand that the "Modernity" era began with Shakespeare (around the time of the National "Golden Ages" in Europe) and the "High Modernity" is Chekhov and the turn of the century (crisis); postmodern -- after 1968 (Beckett and After). Not only Beckett of course, Ionesco and the End of the Grand Illusions (The Great Society, Communism and other latest ideologies of the late modernity).


Mostly THR413 (see new subdirectory): themes subdirectory to be developed when I teach class again. 20th century drama: from Chekhov to Beckett.

Existential & Absurd

[ I have to start a new Existential Page; too many references to Existentialism ( the diagram above) in the 20th century drama. ]

Shaw -- Pygmalion

Chekhov05 THR413 -- From Modernism to Post-modernism (Chekhov to Beckett and around). Next time? [ This course will provide an introduction to major dramatists and dramatic movements of the modern period, from realism to the absurd. ]


American Theatre history links

Brockett's History of the Theatre, Digital Bibliography

Voice of the Shuttle's Drama & Theatre Links

Snagged Links: On Modern Drama

German Society for Contemporary Drama in English (CDE) Theatre & Drama links

Theatre Studies: articles and resources: WWW-VL

The Ibsen Centre (English)

August Strindberg homepage

The Anton Chekhov Page

Oskar Kokoschka's "Self-Portrait of a 'Degenerate Artist'"

Biographie of Oskar Kokoschka:

Images from Expressionist plays

Eugene O'Neill

Antonin Artaud (English version)

The Samuel Beckett Endpage Chekhov Short-stories + a lot of web links! postmodern