Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

The Twentieth Century American Drama.

D r a m a  u n t i l  t h e  2 0 t h  C e n t u r y

- mostly Eur.-produced plays

- melodrama, spectacle, and bombastic performances by actors

- actors = great celebrities in the pre-cinema era


D r a m a  i n  t h e  2 0 t h  C e n t u r y

- mostly low-quality plays to satisfy pop. taste and earn money under the unfavourable conditions and the competition of musicals

- the 1st full-length spoken movie (1927) = now the strongest competition for the theatre

=> the fiction writers become scriptwriters (F. S. Fitzgerald, W. Faulkner, & oth.), the film versions of plays emerge (T. Williams, A. Miller, E. Albee, & oth.)

- unsuccessful playwrights: H. James, W. C. Williams, W. Faulkner, & oth.

- successful and still performed: T. Wilder, L. Hellman, M. Anderson, & oth.

( a )  T h e  M o d e r n i s t  T h e a t r e :

- the greatest playwright E. O’Neill

( b )  T h e  E x p r e s s i o n i s t  T h e a t r e :

- prefers emotions and subjective feelings to the detailed portrayal of reality

- E. Rice’s The Adding Machine

( c )  T h e  P r o l e t a r i a n  T h e a t r e :

- C. Odet’s Waiting for Lefty (1935) and Awake and Sing (1935)

( d )  T h e  L i t t l e  T h e a t r e  M o v e m e n t  ( 1 9 1 2  + ) :

- experimental theatre groups outside Broadway

- reacts against the pop. taste of large audiences and commercial theatre, prefers humbler audiences and high-quality plays

> ‘Provincetown Players’ (1915): staged in NY in winter, in Provincetown in summer (E. O’Neill)

> ‘Washington Square Players’ (1915)

> ‘Group Theatre’ (1931), the proletarian theatre staged in NY (C. Odets)

( e )  M u s i c a l  T h e a t r e :

- a theatre form combining music, songs, dance, and spoken dialogues

- closely related to opera x but: uses pop. music, different instrumentation, and unaccompanied dialogue

( f )  T h e  B r o a d w a y  T h e a t r e


B r o a d w a y  T h e a t r e

- a play / musical performance staged in one of the 39 professional theatres located in the Broadway theatre district (Manhattan borough), seating 500 or more, and appealing to the mass audience

- an important role in 20th c. Am. cultural history: featured the works of the most influential Am. classical music composers (George Gershwin, Kurt Weill, and Leonard Bernstein) and the most famous Am. playwrights (E. O’Neill, G. S. Kaufman, and Edward Albee)

- plays / musicals rooted in the 19th c. Am. dramatic forms of vaudeville and burlesque in interaction with the Eur. grand opera, operetta, and Realist drama

- [vaudeville = a multi-act theatre, presenting together in a single evening acts of music, comedy, feats of aestheticism, magic, animal acts, opera, Shakespeare, banjo, acrobatics, gymnastics, lectures by celebrities or intellectuals, etc.]

- [burlesque = an imitative work deriving humour from an incongruous contrast btw style x subject; also ‘pastiche’, ‘parody’, or ‘mock-heroic’]

- also indebted to the theatrical traditions and contrib. of the immigrant groups of Ir.-Am., Ita.-Am., Jewish-Am., and Af.-Am.

consid. the highest professional form of theatre in the US

O f f - B r o a d w a y:

- seats btw 100 and 499

- generally less expensive, less publicised, less well-known, and with less famous performers

- often more experimental, challenging, and rather non-profit

O f f - O f f - B r o a d w a y :

- seats 100 or less

- establ. as a reaction to off-Broadway in the early 1960s

- non-professional, amateur, and highly experimental


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