- Slides: 18
Modern Realism Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
What is Modern Realism? A genre of drama. Developed in the early 20 th century. Character acts and talk like normal people. Settings are real and normal. Big issues are reflected in normal life. Subject matter is real. The playwright does not present the audience with any morals. The audience can analyse and judge the characters by themselves.
Before Modern Realism Theatre used to involve melodrama, opera, Shakespeare plays, musicals and talent shows. Theatre was expected to entertain the audience, or teach them something morally improving. It was supposed to reflect the ideals of the society. Characters were often representing important people in society, or
Melodramas often featured stages that looked like palaces.
Opera showed idealistic natural beauty. The audience was divided by class.
Music and singing were an important part of the entertainment.
How is the setting of AMS different?
What caused this change? Dr Sigmund Freud Development of women´s rights. Stanislavsky First and Second World War Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
Ibsen Henrik Ibsen, Norway, 1828 -1906 You probably never heard of him, but he´s the most important playwright since Shakespeare. Social problems depicted “realistically” - no easy solutions or deus ex macchina (a god or something randomly happens that magically fixes the situation. Like a fairy godmother. ) Well-made play, intensive structure Middle classes, everyday diction Focus on individuals, but in their social environment Rights of individual over group, religion, morality.
Charles Darwin: Origin of the Species. Taught society that : People were controlled by heredity and environment, not by God. Our behaviour is essentially beyond our control. Humanity is a natural object, not spiritual. Humans are essentially the same, or as valuable, as any other animal. They are NOT more evolved than any other animal, only more suited to exploit their environment.
Who is Stanislavsky?
Was a Russian actor and theatre director. He invented a new techniques for acting based on realistic behaviour and analysing human behaviour. He encouraged actors to use their own memories to enhance the character. His techniques are still studied to day and have been used by Hollywood actors like Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson, Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp.
Before Stanislavsky… It´s difficult to imagine because most entertainment aims to be realistic. Actors used unnatural body movements. They stood on stage according to where they could be seen by the audience. They talked to the audience directly. Body movements and speech were exaggerated.
American Realism -- Miller Arthur Miller, 1915 -2005 NYC, Jewish, U Michigan Journalism to English, grad ‘ 38, chooses playwriting over Hollywood, works Federal Theatre Project NYC All My Sons, 1947, his first major work, wins Drama Critics’ Circle Award Death of A Salesman, 1949, wins Pulitzer, Tony, Drama Critics, Theatre Club… The Crucible, View from the Bridge, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy, Price
All My Sons Based on true story from WWII, parts for tanks were shipped in spite of known defects, the man was convicted. Set Aug 1947, the cracked cylinder heads and Larry’s death were in 1944. Parallel plots: Chris and Ann’s hoped for marriage; Joe’s innocence or guilt, dishonesty Tight, intensive structure; 1 setting 1 day; Ann incites action; rising action as we figure out Joe’s guilt, Kate’s complicity, Chris’s idealism is smashed, Ann reveals the letter. Climax.
Themes Responsibility: to family vs. society. Title. Honor: war vs. business or Chris vs. Joe Idealism: must all stars go out? Materialism masks real value Each character represents a different take on these themes.
Characterization Each given three dimensions, depth Joe is similar to the tragic hero: essentially good (dedicated to family, runs business, cares for neighborhood, sees own limits), but “hamartia” (tragic flaw) is blindness to value of the larger “human family” -- that title again: “all my sons. ” Background stories that justify ethical positions Kellers and Deevers’ stories interwoven Use of realistic detail: the grape juice, clothing, tree Supernatural: Frank and Kate, proven wrong. A form of “ability to lie to oneself. ”
“Tragedy and the Common Man” Miller’s article for NY Times, 1949 “I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its higher sense as kings were. ” “Tragedy, then, is the consequence of a man’s total compulsion to evaluate himself justly. ” “The [tragic] flaw… is really nothing… but his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity. ” “The revolutionary questioning of a stable environment [social, external forces] is what terrifies. ”