Download American Drama in the Age of Film by Zander Brietzke PDF

By Zander Brietzke

Is theater fairly lifeless? Does the theater, as its champions insist, particularly supply a extra intimate adventure than movie? if this is the case, how have adjustments in cinematic thoughts and applied sciences altered the connection among level and picture? What are the inherent boundaries of representing 3-dimensional areas in a two-dimensional one, and vice versa?
American Drama within the Age of Film examines the strengths and weaknesses of either the dramatic and cinematic arts to confront the normal arguments within the film-versus-theater debate. utilizing widely recognized diversifications of ten significant performs, Brietzke seeks to spotlight the inherent powers of every medium and draw conclusions not only approximately how they range, yet how they should range in addition. He contrasts either level and movie productions of, between different works, David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, Sam Shepard’s True West, Edward Albee’s Who’s frightened of Virginia Woolf, Margaret Edson’s Wit, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a sizzling Tin Roof, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. In analyzing the twin productions of those works, Brietzke unearths that cinema has certainly stolen a lot of theater’s former thunder, through making drama extra intimate, and visceral than so much dwell occasions.
But theater remains to be important and concerns tremendously, Brietzke argues, even though for purposes that run counter to a number of the virtues frequently attributed to it as an artwork shape, akin to intimacy and spontaneity. Brietzke seeks to revitalize perceptions of theater by way of tough these universal pieties and providing a brand new severe paradigm, one who champions spectacle and simultaneity because the so much, now not least, vital parts of drama.

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Compared to film, theater is wholly artificial. Whether in Joplin, Missouri, or New York, New York, an audience applauds when the houselights dip and the stage lights come up on a scene that looks “real” and recognizable. In the nineteenth century, Americans paid money to see moving dioramas of familiar places, so the trompe l’oeil standard of scenic art should surprise no one. Audiences applaud that which looks very much like something they have already seen. It must be hard to duplicate real life, such applause seems to suggest.

Accepting Tucker’s breakdown for a moment, film acting would seem to have much greater flexibility (changing from shot to shot) and range (the close-up is not even an option for the theater) than acting onstage. The problem with his analogy is that while the film actor adjusts a performance for each shot, the eventual audience sees only one shot at a time during the sequence of the film. In the theater, the actor must scale a performance for the size of the theater, surely, but in any space, 20 / Chapter 2 big or small, the actor has to convey the honesty and integrity of the performance simultaneously to the person sitting in the orchestra pit as well as on the back row of the theater.

In a letter to a friend in 1932, Artaud concludes, “The true purpose of the theater is to create Myths, to express life in its immense, universal aspect, and from that life to extract images in which we find pleasure in discovering ourselves” (Theater and Its Double 116). Joseph Chaikin, a pioneer of off-off Broadway in the 1960s in America and a disciple of Artaud in the sense of working for an ensemble-based theater independent of a prescribed text by an outside author, echoed a similar formulation of the purpose of theater in his chronicle The Presence of the Actor (1972): “The theater, insofar as people are serious in it, seems to be looking for a place where it is not a duplication of life.

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