Expressionism Theatre Styles Essay

1118 words - 4 pages

Expressionism is an attempt to discover a technique and method which will express what the dramatist imagines the inner reality of his drama to be, more perfectly and impressively than any of the other dramatic styles of theatre are capable of doing. The dramatist attempts to show not objective but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events awaken in them.The Expressionist theatre movement developed in Germany around 1905. It was characterised by attempts to dramatise of set, which held a strong symbolic meaning. Expressionist playwrights tried to convey the dehumanising aspects of 20th century German theatre of which Georg Kaiser and Ernst Toller were the most famous playwrights. They looked back to Swedish playwright, August Strindberg and German actor and dramatist, Frank Wedekind as ancestors of their dramaturgical experiments. Other early expressionist playwrights include Elmer Rice, Karel Capek, Eugene O'Neill and Hans Henry Jahnn.The traditional audiences for this kind of theatre were, to put it bluntly, socialist hippies. They were home in Germany during wartime and expressed their political ideals by attending and performing in these somewhat underground playhouses.After WW1, materials became once more available to the arts and expressionist directors used large and elaborate sets which added extra dimensions to the genre, like screening images onto the stage or having moving sets.Oskar Kokaschkas 1909 playlet 'Murder, The Hope of Women' is often called the first expressionist play. In it an un-named man and woman struggle for control. The man brands the woman; she stabs and imprisons him. He frees himself and she falls dead at his touch. A the play ends, he slaughter everything and everyone around him. The extreme simplification to mythic types, harmonic effects and heightened intensity all would become characteristics of later expressionist plays.Expressionism is a protest, on the one hand, against the sentimental unrealities of Romanticism and, on the other hand, against the tendency of realism [or naturalism] to satisfy itself with a careful representation of the surfaces of life, the speech habits, manners, emotions and ideas of one or another class in society. Narrowly, expressionism reveals the influence on the drama of the current concern with the rich and complex, conscious and subconscious experience of modern personalities, and at the same time it betrays the impatience of dramatist and producer with the restraint of late 19th century naturalist staging, and on interest to use to the full the tremendous of modern theatrical actions and lighting, and to project through concepts of an experimental drama.Expressionism encourages the freest possible handling of styles or tones. In the same way, we are able to find sudden and sometimes strange shifts from verse to style, from objective realism to highly subjective monologue, from predictable realistic dialogue to monosyllable sound. Since the importance is...

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