English Drama: at Present Time

Topics: Caryl Churchill, Bertolt Brecht, Drama Pages: 22 (8364 words) Published: July 4, 2012

Drama is a literary composition, which is performed by professional actors on stage (or theatre), before an audience. It involves conflicts, actions and a particular theme. Drama was introduced to England from Europe by the Romans, and auditoriums were constructed across the country for this purpose. At a very early time the people of England began to act and the earliest plays were acted by monks and took place in church. In this way the people were taught the Bible stories. And it is from these very early monkish plays that the theater with its different kinds of plays, that pageants and even oratorios have sprung (Marshall). By the medieval period, the mummers' plays had developed and the actors travelled from town to town performing re-telling old stories for their audiences in return for money and hospitality. The length of runs in the theatre changed rapidly during the Victorian period. The number of potential patrons for the growing number of theatres increased enormously, and then Postmodernism had a profound effect on English drama in the latter half of the 20th Century. The 20th century opened with great hope but also with some apprehension, for the new century marked the final approach to a new millennium. For many, humankind was entering upon an unprecedented era. The death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and the accession of Edward VII seemed to confirm that a franker, less inhibited era had begun. Modern drama involved much experimentation with new forms and ideas. The plays centred very often on a family and explored the conflicts between the younger generation and the older. This struggle between the generations often involved the rights and freedoms of a young woman who found herself in conflict. The drama also set firmly in the world of work and business. These firmly established settings allowed the dramatists to give force to their analyses of class and the financial bases of power relationships. The early twentieth century denoted the split between 'frocks and frills' drama and serious works, following in the footsteps of many other European countries. "In Britain the impact of these continental innovations was delayed by a conservative

theatre establishment until the late 1950s and 1960s when they converged with the counter-cultural revolution to transform the nature of English language theatre." The West End, England's Broadway, tended to produce the (Greenblatt 1844) musical comedies and well-made plays, while smaller theatres and Irish venues took a new direction. The new direction was political, satirical, and rebellious. Common themes in the new early 20th century drama were political, reflecting the unease or rebellion of the workers against the state, philosophical, delving into the who and why of human life and existence, and . They explored common societal business practices (conditions of factories), new political ideologies (socialism), or the rise of a repressed sector of the population (women).(Chothia) Industrialization also had an impact on Twentieth century drama, resulting in plays lamenting the alienation of humans in an increasingly mechanical world. Not only did Industrialization result in alienation; so did the wars. Between the wars, two types of theatre reined. In the West End, the middle class attended popular, conservative theatre dominated by Noël Coward and G.B. Shaw. "Commercial theatre thrived and at Drury Lane large budget musicals by Ivor Novello and Noel Coward used huge sets, extravagant costumes and large casts to create spectacular productions." (West End) After the wars, taboos were broken and new writers, directors, and actors emerged with different views. Many played with the idea of reality, some were radically political, others shunned naturalism and questioned the legitimacy of previously unassailable beliefs. (Chothia) Towards the end of the century, the term 'theatre of exorcism' came into use due to the amount of plays...
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