Realism! • In the 1800s, acting was mostly unrealistic because the plays were unrealistic (stereotypes, only happy endings, etc.) • Characters had no depth. • Actors did a lot of formal posing and indicating. Realism • began in the 19th century (1800s) • reaction against Romanticism • influenced by current events: Karl Marx, mid-1800s (class struggle, communism); Darwin, late 1800s (survival of the fittest); Freud, 1900 (psychoanalysis, subconscious) Realism • dealt with real life, usually middle and lower class individuals • multi-dimensional, realistic characters • often dealt with social problems • often did not have happy endings • did not try to provide escape for audience: wanted to inspire discussion and change Realism • more natural language and style • started focusing on inner psychology of characters; characters are individuals, not stereotypes/stock characters • actors began using the fourth wall (staying in the scene, not talking to the audience) • initially met with very unhappy audiences who wanted Romanticism; eventually became popular--basically what we are used to today Henrik Ibsen • Norway • “father of realism” • several of his plays were scandalous for the time – examined the truth behind people’s masks • A Doll’s House; Hedda Gabler • “Look into any man’s heart you please, and you will always find, in every one, at least one black spot which he has to keep concealed.” George Bernard Shaw • Ireland • a Socialist – angered by exploitation of working class • Pygmalion; Major Barbara; Man and Superman • “An American has no sense of privacy. He does not know what it means. There is no such thing in the country.” August Strindberg • Sweden • focused on effects of heredity and environment on his characters • Miss Julie • “I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven’t got the guts to bite people themselves.” Anton Chekhov • Russia • main occupation was a doctor • praised for his short stories • stated that the role of the artist is to ask questions, not to answer them • The Seagull; The Cherry Orchard • “Man is what he believes.” Constantin Stanislavski (Konstantin Stanislavsky) (1863-1938) • Russian actor and director; worked with Anton Chekhov • author of An Actor Prepares (and other books about acting) • father of the “System” • “Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” The “System” • these new playwrights were writing plays that demanded a different style of acting • Stanislavski wanted to create a “believable truth” onstage • watched good actors and developed a “system” of analysis and exercises to inspire actors in rehearsals The “System” An actor analyzes the character’s • subtext (meaning beneath the lines) • objectives (goals) • given circumstances (info about the character’s background, appearance, etc.) “System” exercises “Magic If” = “If I were in this situation, how would I behave?” “System” exercises emotional memory = recreating past experiences to arouse emotions in rehearsal of a scene And then a few years later in America… American Playwrights • Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953) – first to introduce realistic theatre into America – plays usually tragic and pessimistic –people who struggle to reach their dreams and fail – Desire under the Elms; The Iceman Cometh; Long Day’s Journey into Night American Playwrights • Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) – southern writer; southern settings and characters – tortured characters (often women)– tragic! – Glass Menagerie; A Streetcar Named Desire; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof American Playwrights • Arthur Miller (1915-2005) – married to Marilyn Monroe – accused of being a Communist – Death of a Salesman; The Crucible; All My Sons Lee Strasberg (1901-1982) • actor and director • became artistic director of the Actors Studio in NYC in 1949 • trained actors in the Method (his version of the “system”) Famous Students of Strasberg… Marilyn Monroe Marlon Brando James Dean James Earl Jones Dustin Hoffman Robert DeNiro Al Pacino Paul Newman Jack Nicholson Many Method actors try to “live the part.” Daniel Day-Lewis • In My Left Foot he played a severely paralyzed artist, so he insisted on staying in a wheelchair for weeks and learned to paint with his toes. • For Last of the Mohicans, he lived off the land, did weight training, carried an old rifle at all times, and learned to skin animals. • To prepare for The Boxer, he trained with a world boxing champion for two years. • To play an Irish prisoner in In the Name of the Father, he lost weight, spent hours each day in a prison cell, and had crew members throw water in his face and verbally abuse him. • As Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, he learned knife-throwing, was an apprentice butcher, and talked in a New York accent even off the set. (He supposedly listened to Eminem in order to get into an angry, self-righteous mindset before filming.) • He spent a year getting ready to play Abraham Lincoln, reading over 100 books on Lincoln and visiting several historical sites, including Lincoln’s birthplace. He requested to be left alone in these rooms so that he could touch Lincoln’s belongings.