The dramatic arts, that originated from the Greeks, has changed drastically into the theatre that is known today. Many people contributed to this metamorphosis and aided in bringing the technical, emotional, and physical art form to life. Theatre should depict a real part of life for the audience. This is the goal that Andre Antoine had set for himself. His view on a realistic theatre brought modern naturalism to life and continues to be seen in the work of modern day directors.
Antoine was alive from 1858 to 1943 in France. France was drawn to street performers and plays with a moral lesson and political context. The plays of the time would deliver a message to the audience, but the actors would never move around or show any real emotion. This however also went in the other direction and displayed productions of melodrama. Antoine was all about getting a story across even if it was political, but seeing actors stand stiff and deliver lines or overact was something he thought was unprofessional. Antoine firmly believed in making theatre as realistic as possible in every way.
Antoine knew that he needed to bring his ideas to life and to the stage. He tried to get the director of a previous theatre group he had worked for at the time, to direct a novel by Emile Zola, but he was repeatedly turned away. This only fueled him into going further with his ideas. As a result, in 1887 he founded Theatre-Libre. His theatre was a showcase for naturalistic playwrights such as: Brieux, Ibsen, and Strindberg. He was also one of the first to bring playwrights from other countries to France. His theatre made such an impact that it continues to influence modern French theatre. His theatre also had several copycats such as the Freie Bruhne in Berlin and the Independent Theatre in London. Despite the theatre’s financial troubles that eventually lead to its closing, Antoine was able to make a large impact on the theatre of today.
Antoine was a daring and fresh face for the theatre. He always wanted to take risks and try new approaches to plays that most didn’t dare to touch. Antoine wanted to display the naturalistic plays of his time that had been censored or banned in Europe. Many other theatres had rejected these plays, but Antoine picked them up. He wanted his theatre to be free of censorship, which was something unheard of at the time. Theatre-Libre was the first theatre to be so daring and strip away the constraints of censorship in such a way.
He combined naturalism and realism to create productions that could be something anyone could see happening in a real life situation. Antoine also loved the idea of ensemble acting and often included this into his productions in some way or another because it made the situation feel more natural. His love for making theatre real landed him the title of the “Father of Naturalistic Staging.” Every play needed to be as real as possible for Antoine and he even went as far as to have real beef carcases...