19th Century Theatre

Topics: Theatre, George Bernard Shaw, Play Pages: 3 (841 words) Published: February 24, 2005
The nineteenth century was a very important time in plays and playwrights throughout the world. Many playwrights were taking new directions in their plays and there were also many new playwrights taking their chances at writing great plays. Women were starting to make appearances also as playwrights in the theatre. In this paper I'm going to discuss some of the nineteenth century playwrights and what they did.

Just as the eighteenth century was coming to an end, there were many political and social events that brought huge changes to the European theatre. The events of the French Revolution helped the dying of the aristocratic tradition in the theatre. Also because of the new industrial age, cities were beginning to fill up as people from the countryside poured into town to find jobs. In many of the big cities, new theatres were built so that the now huge working-class audience could enjoy in the theatre also. New playwrights such as August von Kotzebue and Guilbert de Pixerecourt introduced the melodrama genre of theatre. Romantic drama and revivals of the classics were also popular hits at the new theatres.

One of the major changes in theatre in the nineteenth century was the transition from a more Shakespearean and Elizabethan stage over to a Victorian style. The Elizabethan style consisted of the writer to make certain actors give speeches to the audience. So these plays were filled with more speeches and less acting. Eventually this style changed some, but still consisted of speeches. But these speeches were more along the lines of being romantic and very artificial. Things that these actors would say on stage were far from what was in the everyday conversation of men and woman. Playwrights of mid-nineteenth century prided themselves on this so it was seen in the theatre a lot. Having actors give speeches on romantic themes. The problem with this was that the playwrights were, instead of looking to the future and moving forward in the theatre world,...

References: Demastes, William W., British Playwrights, 1880-1956
Cunliffe, John W., Modern English Playwrights, A Short History of the English Drama from 1825.
Mergenthal, Edward R., 19th Century Theatre, December 1, 1998, http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Balcony/7634/origins_of_theatre_19th_century_theatre.htm
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