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Modern Drama 101

Through the lens of theatre, explore the shifting values and beliefs of modern society with Modern Drama...

As a philosophical and art form, modernism arose as a result of upheavals in Western society during the late 19th and 20th centuries. In the face of a rapidly changing, urbanised culture, artists strove to self-consciously break away from traditional forms of art and to express themselves freely. From a theatrical perspective, modernism oversaw a dramatic shift that challenged the established representations of Romanticism, melodrama, and well-structured plays. Influenced by the findings of prominent psychologists, artists began to prioritise the inner workings of their characters and how to best represent them on the stage. This struggle for realism came to dominate British and American theatre in the 20th century and would foreground dramaturgy’s fidelity to real life. By mid-century, the violent disruption of society brought about by the world wars, propelled a counter art movement that rejected realism and focused primarily on symbolism and existentialism. Although opposing in many ways, these two art movements both fall under the category of modernism and would simultaneously search for innovative artistic forms to exteriorise a changed world view.

Modern Drama 101 will be divided into six chapters:

1. Modern Drama 101: Modernism and Theatre

2. Modern Drama 101: Realism and Naturalism in Miss Julie

3. Modern Drama 101: Bernard Shaw and Satire

4. Modern Drama 101: Existentialism and the Absurd

5. Modern Drama 101: Mid-Century British Theatre

6. Modern Drama 101: American Theatre and Tennessee Williams

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