Theater - Aspects of Expressionist Theater Production (2023)

Expressionism in theater grew out of the same impulse to rebel against the materialist values ​​of the older bourgeois generation that produced both reformist naturalist theater and aestheticist symbolist theatre. This contrast was clearly expressed in the themes and often in the titles of pieces such as, for example,water murder("paricide"). The German actor and playwright is generally considered to be the forerunner of expressionism.Frank Wedekind, which criticized the Ibsenite reform movement forMoralof civil society and Strindberg. In his plays, Wedekind tried to discover what lay beneath the surface of refinement and decency; In doing so, he often introduced roles that served more as emblems than realistic characters.

Strindberg's early pieces are usually included in the NaturalistRepertoire🇧🇷 After a period of personal crisis between 1894 and 1897, the form of Strindberg's plays dissolved into dreamlike visions or denominational monodramas in which everything is seen through the eyes of the individual protagonist. The unique orientation of these pieces was adopted by the expressionists, as well as the use ofstereotypeCharacters - the son, the stranger, etc.

Alongside Wedekind and Strindberg, the Austrian painter and writerOskar Kokoschkamust be mentioned; Indeed, some authorities would date Kokoschka's pieces as the first truly expressionist🇧🇷 Your first pieceswomen murder hope(1909),Sphinx and Straw Man(1911) ethe burning bush(1913) seem to take Strindberg's painful depictions of destructive relationships between the sexes and free them from any dependencyarticularHe speaks. The plays are episodic and lack a clear narrative. They are constructed from violent visual images. Kokoschka is not even remotely concerned with giving any sign or resemblance to surface reality. In his view, theater, like painting, should be expressed through “a language of images, visible ortangibleSigns, tangible reflections of experience and knowledge.” With this, Kokoschka broke completely with literary tradition for the first time and asserted that theater communicates through a visual language.

The expressionist period encompassed the period ofFirst World War, which changed the nature of the movement. Before the war, expressionism was primarily concerned with vociferous protests against unbridled materialism and the loss of spirituality. During this period, the coming war was seen as a necessary means to purify society. Many of the expressionist playwrights died in the massacre on the western front. The survivors were transformed and expressionism took on a more overtly political tone. The shift from private protest to political debate allowed expressionist theater techniques to be further developed and applied more widely.

The great expressionist theater wasThe grandstand in Berlin. The expressionist phase neither simulated reality nor suggested unreality. It existed as an independent platform from which direct statements could be made. Attitudes therefore tended to be abstract or, when specific, highly subjective. Distortion Techniquesinappropriate Side to sideit expressed the ideological position of the director or playwright, or the state of mind of the protagonist, or both. In expressionist pieces, the walls of houses can lean at sharp angles, threatening to crush the protagonist; The windows could light up like eyes peering into secrecy and intimacy; Trees can take on the form of the skeleton, signifying death. This way, instead of simply making thosequiteFor the plot, the setting became a dramatic force. This aspect of expressionism was used to great effect byMal, where camera angles and special lenses can give expression to the ordinary.Leopold Jesnerin his theater productionRicardo III(1920) put Richard at the head of a flight at the height of his powersteps🇧🇷 The steps below Richard were crowded with soldiers in red cloaks and white helmets. The effect of kneeling down was that Richard was sitting on a mound of skulls with a river of blood running through them.

The action of many expressionist plays was broken up into a series of small scenes or episodes. This style of theater was calledStationendrama("Bahnhofsdrama") and was clearly derived from the principles ofmedievalmystery pieces. This made the scene considered independent in the theater. Meaning and meaning derive from the juxtaposition or accumulation of scenes rather than a continuous narrative progression from scene to scene, and it follows that there need not be consistency of setting. at theErnest Toller's man and the crowd(1920), scenes alternate between reality and dream throughout the play.

Characters in expressionist drama were often impersonal or nameless. They often served to illustrate some aspect of the protagonist's thoughts or feelings, or expressed aspects of the world and society. No Tollertransfiguration(1918), soldiers on the battlefield had skeletons painted on their costumes.charactersthey were often presented as fragments of a unitknowledge🇧🇷 Masses were often notdifferentiatedinstead, they were used en masse to express or emphasize the power of the protagonist's position. Expressionist roles often required actors to express aspects of the character through the use of isolated body parts. The character of Dr. strangelove inby Stanley KubrickThe film of the same name, in which the right arm must be prevented from displaying the Hitler salute, makes comic use of an expressionist technique.

Two other developments can be attributed to the expressionist movement. Director Leopold Jessner took advantage of thisinnovationsinsidescenography🇧🇷 Its use of steps and multiple levels earned the stage the namestair stage(“Graduate Level”). He used screens in the manner advocated by Craig, and his productions exemplified a plastic concept of scenography that allowed the action to flow freely with minimal impediment. Some of Jessner's productions relied heavily on levels and planes for this plasticity, in others he used solid three-dimensional setting features positioned on the three-dimensional backdrop.Platz🇧🇷 Jessner reclaimed and reclaimed all of the stage space. In his 1921 productionOthelloa central stand served several spatial functions. Upon his arrival in Cyprus, Othello and the accompanying crowd climbed out of a trapdoor at the back of the podium and spilled over the stage. Othello, not moving further than the top of the stands, seemed to rise out of a sea of ​​people and tower over them. In a later scene, the same bleachers supported Desdemona's bed, with curtains reaching down to the flies, surrounded by space. The solid unit isolated within the general space of the stage became a distinguishing feature ofcontemporaryScenography and staging.

The second contribution of the expressionist movement was to bring the mask back into common use. Initially, the mask meant typical or depersonalized characters; it later became a means of completely distancing the audience from the characters, as used by Brecht inThe Caucasian Chalk Circle(1948) and other plays.

Expressionism was relatively short-lived, although there was a brief revival in the theatrical mode in the 1960s, when casts of actors in black jeans and sweaters sat on stages with black curtains, intoning their lines as ego, id and libido in a crisis. mental. 🇧🇷 However, expressionism contributed several techniques to the modern stage that have become a commodity for most directors and designers; although in most contemporary cases the influence of expressionism was mediated through Brecht (see belowBrecht's influence).

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