Naturalism - Moscow Arts Center - the Seagle

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In this essay I shall be looking at:

• The rise of Naturalism as an art form in the theatre • Anton Chekhov and the first production of The Seagull. • The origins of the Moscow Arts Theatre

The research methods I used were primarelly web bassed with refrences taken from various books as well.

The rise of Naturalism
[1]There are three relevant senses of 'naturalism,' and of the associated 'naturalist' and 'naturalistic.' The first, and most popular, indicates a method of 'accurate' or 'lifelike' reproduction. The second, and historically earliest, indicates a philosophical position allied to science, natural history and materialism. The third, and most significant in the history of drama, indicates a movement in which the method of accurate production and the specific philosophical position are organically and usually consciously fused. Raymond Williams

Naturalism started in France in the 1870’s. Naturalism is a style in theatre that tries to bring a sense of reality to the stage through various methods, detailed sets, an unpoetic literary style that reflects the way real people speak, and a style of acting that tries to recreate reality often by trying to get the actor to have a complete identification with the role they are playing. Later Konstantin Sergeyevich Alekseyev (who took the stage name Stanislavsky) came up with a system of actor training which went hand in hand with Naturalism. The main spokesman for naturalism when it first emerged was Emile Zola, he wrote mostly novels and wanted to reform the way they were written he also wanted to reform the play. Zola’s first major statement about naturalism was in his novel, Thèrése Raquin, which was first brought to the stage in 1873. The preface of Thèrése Raquin stated his views about naturalism in the theatre and in the novel. He felt that the theatre was years behind the novel and suffered from old and outdated conventions. Zola didn’t like the distortion of psychology to create sympathy for a character or unrealistic writing with complicated plots that usually ended with a satisfying resolution. In its place, Zola wanted plays which would avoid the complications and unbelievable plots and characters typical of the l9th Century and substitute the depiction of human beings caught in the coils of fate. ‘Therese Raquin would seem today far from naturalistic. It would appear to be more of a melodramatic story about love and murder and betrayal, and suicide brought on by conscience. A pair of lovers commits murder in order to be together. The focus is seemingly on the nature of the consciences of Laurent and Therese. In the third act we see the mounting remorse of the two conspirators. But the final scene is pure melodrama: Mme. Raquin enters, overhears their confession of Camille's murder and is stricken with paralysis. The last act returns to exploration of their consciences and it is conscience and exposure that drive them to their suicides. The play ran only nine performances.’ [2] Even though Thèrése Raquin wouldn’t be considered completely naturalistic it was the first real venture into naturalism and it is hard to have a play that is completely naturalistic even today. Thèrése Raquin was on for nine performances after that Zola ended up with a lot of followers who were passionate about his new style of theatre. When naturalism first came about there was a lack of good naturalistic plays which could were able to incompise all of its principles. Henri Becque captured the essence of naturalism in two of his plays, The Vultures (1882) and La Parisienne (1885). But Becque refused to comply with suggested changes when the shows were first produced in a conservative theatre, so naturalism was still not really accepted. The Independent Theatre Movement or the Théâtre Libre was started in 1858 André Antoine. It was a means to make Naturalism more acceptable by the public. Antoine became known as the father of naturalistic staging. He had...
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