Realism and Non-Realism in Theatre

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The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the birth, development, and evolution of Realism and Non-realism in theatre. As well as to discover, the writers and plays of the times, and their impact on theatre then and now.

In the late nineteenth century there came a rise in the working class. Middle-class workers, as well as women, gained power and began to have a larger voice in society. The middle-class started to get more political power, including starting a campaign to allow more people, including women, to be able to vote. Theatre had previously been mainly about the lives of the upper-class, and very rarely questioned problems in society or government. This was mainly because of the great control held over theatre by kings and government. Through this gained power and freedom, playwrights began to address topics that had previously been considered taboo to them. This was also the time of scientific and technological advances of Freud, Einstein, and Edison. Freud reflected on the inner-workings of the human mind, he analyzed dreams and psychological motivations. Realist playwrights used Freud's findings to create more in-depth, realistic characters than had previously been seen. Einstein's theory relativity brought about the questioning of the world around them of things that were originally thought to be fixed. All things moral and intellectual were questioned, including religion, the inner-workings of human beings, and the universe itself. Edison's electric light enabled more lighting options in theatres than had previously been available through the use of candles or gas lighting.

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)
Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright, is often called the "Father of Modern Drama" or the "Father of Realism". Ibsen began his career writing romantic dramas, but as society began to change, Ibsen saw a chance to write a different type of play. Ibsen was direct, honest, and unsparing in his writing. He found that he could...
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