Naturalism is a movement in European drama and theatre that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It refers to theatre that attempts to create an illusion of reality through a range of dramatic andtheatrical strategies
This type of theatre is to create the “perfect illusion” of ‘reality’ on stage and will have detailed and three dimensional settings to keep this illusion prominent. The key features of this style are, realistic, settings, characters and the story lines are not overly dramatic. Darwin’s theory of evolution was what first sparked the idea for naturalism as it develops and grows and is ever changing to reflect real life situations. Stanislavski is the most famous drama practitioner of this style of theatre. Stanislavski’s System was created to train the actors in a different way in which to give a more raw/believable performance and to have a stronger connection with the audience.
“playwrights were influenced by naturalist manifestos written by French novelist and playwright Emile Zola in the preface to Therese Raquin (1867 novel, 1873 play) and Swedish playwright August Strindberg in the preface to Miss Julie (1888).
naturalism explores the concept of scientific determinism (spawning from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution) – characters in the play are shaped by their circumstances and controlled by external forces such as hereditary or their social and economic environment often characters in naturalistic plays are considered victims of their own circumstance and this is why they behave in certain ways (they are seen as helpless products of their environment) characters are often working class/lower class (as opposed to the mostly middle class characters of realistic dramas) naturalistic plays regularly explore sordid subject matter previously considered taboo on the stage in any serious manner (eg suicide, poverty, prostitution)”
“19th-century realism is closely connected to the development of modern drama, which, as Martin Harrison explains, “is usually said to have begun in the early 1870s” with the “middle-period” work of the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen’s realistic drama in prose has been “enormously influential.”
Realism is very similar to natualism but there are also key differences,
Similarities between realism and naturalism
- Realistic and naturalistic plays depict events that could happen in real life, maybe even to members of the audience.
- Both genres focus on individuals and families in everyday situations.
- During the late 1800s and early 1900s, playwrights found ample subject matter for both genres as the sciences advanced and people struggled and fought against oppressive governing systems.
Differences between realism and naturalism
- Naturalism approached art in a more scientific, almost clinical, manner than realism
- Realistic plays often had characters to whom the audience could relate and sympathise
- Naturalistic plays, which were difficult to create and rarely popular, approached every element with the detachment of a scientist
- Realistic plays could show characters breaking free from difficult situations and allow the audience to empathise with their plight.
- Naturalistic works, on the other hand, sought only to study the situation, characters and other factors without interpretation.
realistic theatre offers the chance to depic characters and mould them to a more relatable and to give the audience a more truthful reality on stage. The key playwrights of this style includes Leo Toltosy and Henrik Ibsen.
Epic theatre (German: episches Theater) was primarily proposed by Bertolt Brecht who suggested that a play should not cause the spectator to identify emotionally with the characters or action before him or her, but should instead provoke rational self-reflection and a critical view of the action on the stage.
Brecht is the drama practitioner that is in direct corolation with epic theatre, his aim was to highlight the injustice with social issues along side with other issues that are going on around us. Epic theatre much like naturalism the plays are usually a reflection on reality. Epic theatre was introduced into the theatrical world in the mid 20th century. Even though epic theatre is a reflection on realistic situations it often has the use of alienation in which there is a clear divide between the audience and the play. This means that the audience understand the characters but do not form an emotional connection to them.
Postmodern theatre is a recent phenomenon in world theatre, coming as it does out of the postmodern philosophy that originated in Europe in the middle of the twentieth century. Postmodern theatre emerged as a reaction against modernist theatre.
This type of theatre was developed during the 20th century in Europe and developed because of the social views that were changing at the time of modernist theatre, this type of theatre does not usually answer questions of the audiance but makes them think more and gives them questions to think about.