Comp 4 Mid 20th Century

  1. International Theatre Institute
    • founded in 1947 under UNESCO
    • Published World Theatre
    • held international meetings
    • after 1954 held an annual festival
    • also founded theatres in areas that previously had few or none
  2. Post-war theatre in Paris
    • Prosperous though not outstanding during occupation
    • Postwar government sought to take a more active role
    • Ministry of Arts and Letters subsidized select productions of new works
    • State theatres reorganized: Opera and Opera Comique placed under single management, Comedie Francaise and Odeon merged
  3. French regional theatres
    • Government  encouraged decentralization of the theatre which by 1945 had been primarily restricted to Paris
    • 1947 regional dramatic centers begin to be established
    • Regional troupes also toured local towns
    • Festivals founded, and by 60s more than 50 festivals held annually
  4. Jean-Louis Barrault
    • 1940 became societaire at the Comedie Francaise
    • 43 production of Claudel's The Satin Slipper popularized "total theatre"
    • Previously thought to be unplayable due to its length and complexity, Barrault shaped it into a powerful theatrical experience
    • declared that the text of a play is like an iceberg, only 1/8 visible, and it was the director's task to use all the theatre's resources to illuminate the other 7/8
  5. Jean Vilar
    • 1951 appointed as director of the Theatre National Populaire, then on the brink of collapse
    • Assembled an impressive company and by 1954, the TNP was one of the most popular troupes in France
    • Productions focused on the actor with little scenery
    • Troupe played at Avignon Festival and toured, leading to it soon becoming the most popular of the state troupes
  6. Municipal Cultural Centers
    • Founded by DeGaulle's minister of Culture Andre Malraux
    • Held theatrical performances, dance, film, music, visual arts and public lectures
    • many founded in suburbs of Paris, too far to benefit from the facilities of the city
  7. French Existentialism
    • Primarily through Jean Paul Sartre
    • The Flies, Dirty Hands, No Exit, The Devil and the Good Lord, The Condemned of Altona
    • Denies existence of God, fixed standards, and verifiable moral codes.
    • human beings "Condemned to be free"
    • people must choose their own values and live by them
    • believed that it was necessary to be politically engaged
  8. Albert Camus
    • Small theatrical output, but most influential through essay, "The Myth of Sisyphus"
    • Human condition absurd because of the gap between people's hopes and the irrational universe
    • Only remedy lies in an individual's search for a set of arbitrary standards that will allow him to bring order out of chaos
    • conclusions similar to Sartre's
    • Disagreed most with Sartre's ideas on engagement, denying the validity of choosing between 2 immoral choices
  9. Absurdists
    • Tended to concentrate on the the irrationality of human existance, whithout suggesting a path beyond
    • Episodes unified by theme or mood, rather than cause and effect, paralleling the chaos of the world
    • Sense of absurdity heightened by juxtaposition of incongruous events producing comic and ironic effects
    • Language often subverted because it was seen as a major rationalistic tool
    • 4 most important: Beckett, Ionesco, Genet, Adamov
  10. Samuel Beckett
    • First absurdist to win international fame with Waiting for Godot (1953)
    • In many ways, seems the characteristic playwright of the 1950s
    • characters often seem to be set down in a world ravaged by disaster
    • Beckett most concerned with the human condition in a metaphysical sense
    • Characters isolated in space and time, raise questions that cannot be answered, and struggle in a disintegrating world. 
    • Expressed postwar doubts about human's capacity to understand and control the world
  11. Eugene Ionesco
    • Fist Play The Bald Soprano (1949)
    • Early plays (The Lesson, The Chairs) negative, concentrating on cliches of language and irrationality of materialist values
    • Later works (The Killer, Rhinoceros, Exit the King, Macbett, The Man with the Suitcases) slightly more positive, showing protagonists holding out against conformity
    • Concerned primarily with social relationships, typically of middle-class families
    • 2 major themes: deadening nature of materialistic, bourgeois society, and loniness of the individual
  12. Jean Genet
    • Early works The Maids and Deathlands, but his reputation made on The Balcony, The Blacks, and the Screens
    • Characters rebel against organized society; deviation is necessary to achieving integrity
    • Nothing has meaning without its opposite, so deviant behavior just as valuable as accepted virtues
    • transforms life into a series of ceremonies and rituals giving an air of stability to otherwise nonsensical behavior
  13. Arthur Adamov
    • Early plays The Invasion, Parody, All Against All show cruel world of moral destructiveness and personal anxieties
    • Later plays became more socially oriented, especially after 1956, when he denounced his earlier work and adopted a Brechtian approach
    • new outlook reflected in Paolo Paoli and Spring '71
  14. Social Drama in France
    • Interest in absurdism wanes in the early 60s, and many French playwrights turned to political and socioeconomic themes
    • Aime Cesaire especially concerned with problems of postcolonialism
    • Gabriel Cousin wrote in brechtian style, but with a Christian slant
Card Set
Comp 4 Mid 20th Century
Study for IU theatre department's comp 4