4 DramaONeill30s - Modernism in American Drama(Eugene...

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Modernism in American Drama (Eugene O’Neill, Susan Glaspell, The Black Playwrights) On the whole, modernism in American drama appeared in many different disguises and as with modernism in general, it will be more precise to talk about the modernisms on the American stage than about one unified whole. Moreover, many of the tendencies exhibited by these early modernists would be picked up by some of the subsequent playwrights, modified and transformed to answer the post-WWII realities. The Provincetown players – founded in 1915 by George Cram Cook, Susan Glaspell’s husband; to provide a venue for a specifically American drama in a concomitant relation with the American people. The structure, dialogue, and staging could exhibit various degrees of “making it new”, but the art of Provincetown Players remained connected with life. Two trends in Modernist Drama – (1) demonstrative, declarative, expressive, often ironical, occasionally absurdist, to see with a clear vision, to define the problems, to break free of convention, to proclaim in their own often very idiosyncratic way the truth (2) oriented more towards things structural and technical and linguistic, in which the intimate, the oblique, the implied, the elusive, the subdued, the symbolic were of the essence (Maeterlinck; Hofmannsthal; Chekov; Yeats; Lorca Expressionist Drama – hybrid form; attempted to reject representation of surface reality in favor of a depiction of inner, subjective states of emotion and experience; visual and emotional qualities often featured an element of distortion, exaggeration, or suggestive symbolism; a dream-like or nightmarish quality to the action; the effects of mechanization and urbanization resounded in the complex syntax and telescopic dialogue of the characters ; characters , with the exception of the central character, often appeared as abstracted types or caricatures; Music and sound effects helped communicate the varying emotional states of the play’s focal characters, sometimes being used as substitutes for words and action; tended to reject a linear, sustained exposition of story in favour of a rapidly changing sequence of short scenes which sometimes dissolved one into the other in cinematic fashion Eugene O’Neill (1888 – 1953) - became the American representative of almost all of these European trends; modern versions of Greek tragedy; renovated the soliloquy and the use of masks; experimented with the use of film on the stage; wrote about miscegenation (krystosvane na rasi) and incest (kryvosmeshenie); wrote 49 plays destroying many that he could not finish; won the Noble Prize in 1936; Plays : First plays: melo-dramas which have survived by accident and are almost never staged today; continued with sea plays for the Provincetown Players; “Bound East for Cardiff”; “Beyond the Horizon” experimentations with Expressionism
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2011 for the course LITERATURE 105 taught by Professor Stevens during the Winter '11 term at Mitchell Community College.

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4 DramaONeill30s - Modernism in American Drama(Eugene...

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