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Bernard Shaw and his “discussion” plays. Shaw’s “Quintessence of Ibsenism”


English drama and theatre at the turn of the century.

Специфические реакции дикарбоновых кислот

1.Реакция декарбоксилирования при нагревании щавелевой и малоновой кислот

 

2. При нагревании янтарной глутаровой и малеиновой кислот образуется циклический ангидрид

There have been two periods of great drama in British history, the first in the Renaissance, Shakespeare’s age, and the second, confusingly called the “Renaissance of the British Drama”, featuring George Bernard Shaw and the New Drama. The revival of the drama is a characteristic feature of the latter part of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. William Archer (1856-1924), the most influential drama critic of the New Drama movement and translator of Ibsen, thought of the ages between the Puritans’ closing of the theaters in 1642 and the creation of the New Drama in the 1890s as the dark ages of the drama, with only a few glimmerings of light along the way – Congreve, Wycherly, Gold­smith, Sheridan, Robertson – to give hope for the future.

Realism” as a dramatic style refers to the appearance of lifelikeness in setting, costume, dialogue, gesture, facial expression, and so on. A realistic play was to be a photographic copy of common, observable experience (usually middle-class domestic experience, to accord with the reality of the rise of the bourgeoisie). The stage was to appear, not as a stage, but as a room or any actual environment; props were to be seen, not as props, but as authentic parts of a particular everyday environment. All the developing technology of the modern theater was brought to bear in creating the illusion of authentic environment. A proscenium arch separated the stage from the auditorium and framed the action taking place on the stage in a three-sided box set. Some theaters eliminated the apron stage in front of the proscenium altogether and bordered the proscenium so that the effect was that of looking at a framed picture. The proscenium’s “fourth wall,” through which the audience peered was invisible by convention.

As for the “realistic” play, no authorial intrusion was allowed, and neither audience nor actors were acknowledged for what they were. The idea was to achieve the illusion of re-created life, in its immediacy and dense actuality. At its best it did indeed give the feeling that one was peering through an open window into someone’s house and, unobserved, overhearing private conversation. “Realism” at its best was very persuasive in making audiences believe that the illusion they were seeing was not an illusion. But of course that simply made “realism” the most outrageous of all of the theater’s pretenses – one had to make-believe that one was not in a theater and not looking at actors acting on a stage. The supposed neutrality or scientific objectivity of the author, the indirectness of the characterization, and the relative inconclusiveness of the action forced the viewer to pay close attention to the details in order to form judgments, with much of the meaning of such plays occurring in the subtext and accumulating gradually, almost imperceptibly, detail by detail.

“Realism” at first was associated with “social drama,” for its immediate goal was to display accurately and authentically the social environment and behaviour of the day. But this association gave realism a reputation for being superficial, for getting lost in relatively unimportant surface detail at the expense of portraying the more important soul of things. But then they realised that the surface of life could be used in a poetic, symbolic way, just as great photographers were learning that the camera need not just copy life’s exterior but could interpret and poetically evoke the hidden depths as well. The Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was first to use the surface to suggest the deeps and so invented what came to be called “psychological realism”, in which the picturing of society is employed to suggest the underlying soul or psyche. And insofar as his plays penetrated mundane appearances, reaching to the significance of things, they were examples of “philosophical realism” as well, and of “critical realism” insofar as they saw through the humbug of the day.




While social debates in drama were nothing new, there appeared a form of drama known as the problem play.The problem play of the 19th century was distinguished by its intent to confront the spectator with the dilemmas experienced by the characters. It emerged as part of the wider movement of realism in the arts. It deals with contentious social issues through debates between the characters on stage, who typically represent conflicting points of view within a realistic social context. The most important exponent of the problem play, however, was Henrik Ibsen, whose work combined penetrating characterisation with emphasis on topical social issues, usually concentrated on the moral dilemmas of a central character. The plays of Ibsen, affected England profoundly in the last decade of the nineteenth century and proved an impetus to a new dramatic movement. His dramas proved immensely influential, spawning variants of the problem play in works by George Bernard Shaw and other later dramatists.

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