The Nature of Theatre in Europe in the 19th Century

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In 19th century Melodrama was the primary theatrical form in Europe. The word "melodrama" comes from "Melos", Greek word for song. It originating in 18th century - used with a short piece of music contrast or associated with spoken drama. By the end of 19th century form, this merged into a salon entertainment. Often in melodrama, the dialogues were in the form of poetry rather than everyday language. It mostly involved 2 to 5 acts and almost never went over 5. Moreover, it contained limited characters which included a hero/heroine, a villain, an old man/woman and a comic man/woman.

The play was full of sharp emotion when the good-in-nature-but-not-too-clever hero or heroine is being trick or threat by a villain and was leaded to miserable distress yet finally be able to escapes or being rescued. Always in a melodrama the play provided a perfect resolution and closed with a happy ending. Their characters all appears to be very simple and plain, with one dimensional of good or evil. Also, this form of drama often uses animals (e.g. horses, dogs or marine creatures) to represent the romantic concept of nature. Special affects such as fires, explosions, drowning, and earthquakes with also included.

Commonly the themes of a melodrama were mostly about love and murder. In the early 1800's, they were often about romantic, exotic, or supernatural. When it reached the 1820's, it shifted to focus more on the everyday, normal people with daily settings. By the 1830's it became more about important, high rank people whom with a high social position: the "gentlemanly" melodrama.

Another Popular Theatrical Form in the 19th Century was Scribe’s well-made play. Developed in the nineteenth century, it was very much similar with the melodrama yet, with more rules and structure. In the mid/late 19th Century Staging, it was effect by the idea of realism which was starting to become popular at that time. People increased their interest in historical accuracy and the needs...
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