History of Drama - Modernism

History of Drama

Throughout modern times many different eras of theatre have came and gone. One of the most significant to appear would be Modernism which arose between the 1880s-1930s. Consisting of a combination of three main styles; futurism, dada and expressionism, this quite recent era had a huge affect on contemporary theatre. Apart from its 3 branches of theatre, the improvement of staging was largely evident and some of the masterminds of theatre emerged during the Modernism era.

Out of all three branches, the earliest to appear during the Modernism era was Expressionism. Expressionism mainly consisted of the distortion of human nature by false values. Emphasis and embellishment of a human situation was also a large part of performances. An example of an expressionist performance would be The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neil. The second of the three branches is Dada. This took place during World War I, and added a greater diversity in performances. There was no barrier between art forms, logic was replaced with illogic and reason was replaced with chance. Most performances consisted of short plays, poems, dances and musical skits. The third and final branch of Modernism took places in the 1920s through the 1930’s, this was known as futurism. From futurism, came the manifestation of “Variety Theatre”. Unorthodox methods of performance were a main part of futurism, this included anything from; collages to bruistisme and even kinetic sculpture.

The Modernism era saw a rise to many great playwrights, actors and theatrical characters. Some of which had direct influences on each of the branches of Modernism. Georg Kaiser and Ernst Toller were both German born and German raised during the early 1900’s. They were fully exposed to WWI and in the midst of all the fighting and depression; they looked for some form of entertainment or happiness. In this search, they discovered “Dada”. Apart from...