Expressionism (theatre)

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Expressionism is a modernist movement in drama and theatre that developed in Europe (principally Germany) in the early decades of the 20th century and later in the United States. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_0

It forms part of the broader movement of Expressionism in the arts. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_1

History Expressionism (theatre)_section_0

There was a concentrated Expressionist movement in early 20th century German theatre of which Georg Kaiser and Ernst Toller were the most famous playwrights. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_2

Other notable Expressionist dramatists included Reinhard Sorge, Walter Hasenclever, Hans Henny Jahnn, and Arnolt Bronnen. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_3

They looked back to Swedish playwright August Strindberg and German actor and dramatist Frank Wedekind as precursors of their dramaturgical experiments. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_4

Oskar Kokoschka's Murderer, the Hope of Women was the first fully Expressionist work for the theatre, which opened on 4 July 1909 in Vienna. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_5

In it, an unnamed man and woman struggle for dominance. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_6

The Man brands the woman; she stabs and imprisons him. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_7

He frees himself and she falls dead at his touch. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_8

As the play ends, he slaughters all around him (in the words of the text) "like mosquitoes." Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_9

The extreme simplification of characters to mythic types, choral effects, declamatory dialogue and heightened intensity would become characteristic of later Expressionist plays. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_10

The first full-length Expressionist play was The Son by Walter Hasenclever, which was published in 1914 and first performed in 1916. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_11

In the 1920s, Expressionism enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the theatre of the United States, including plays by Eugene O'Neill (The Hairy Ape, The Emperor Jones and The Great God Brown), Sophie Treadwell (Machinal), Lajos Egri (Rapid Transit) and Elmer Rice (The Adding Machine). Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_12

Style Expressionism (theatre)_section_1

Expressionist plays often dramatize the spiritual awakening and sufferings of their protagonists and are referred to as Stationendramen (station dramas), modeled on the episodic presentation of the suffering and death of Jesus in the Stations of the Cross. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_13

August Strindberg had pioneered this form with his autobiographical trilogy To Damascus (1898-1904). Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_14

Early expressionism in particular testified to the failure of social values with a predilection for ecstasy and despair and hence a tendency towards the inflated and the grotesque; a mystical, even religious element with frequent apocalyptic overtones; an urgent sense of the here and now. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_15

The plays often dramatise the struggle against bourgeois values and established authority, often personified in the figure of the Father. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_16

In Reinhard Sorge's The Beggar (Der Bettler), the young hero's mentally ill father raves about the prospect of mining the riches of Mars and is eventually poisoned by his son. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_17

In Arnolt Bronnen's Parricide (Vatermord), the son stabs his tyrannical father to death, only to have to fend off the frenzied sexual overtures of his mother. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_18

In Expressionist drama, the speech is heightened, whether expansive and rhapsodic, or clipped and telegraphic. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_19

Director Leopold Jessner became famous for his Expressionistic productions, often unfolding on stark, steeply raked flights of stairs (an idea originally developed by Edward Gordon Craig), which quickly became his trademark. Expressionism (theatre)_sentence_20

See also Expressionism (theatre)_section_2

Expressionism (theatre)_unordered_list_0


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expressionism (theatre).