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An Analysis of Modern Theatre - Essay Example

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From the paper "An Analysis of Modern Theatre" it is clear that the political nature of theatre is something that McGrath feels is a characteristic of plays that are similar in form to the pantomime that exemplifies the needs and desires of the working class…
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An Analysis of Modern Theatre

Download file to see previous pages... The fluidity that the position offered gave a lot of scope for thinkers like McGrath and Bakhtin. Both these thinkers looked upon the conventions of theatre that privileged a catharsis inducing performance of a play as detrimental to the political fabric of modern democracies. They were thus, according to them, outdated. The principles of tragedy and theatre in general, which pointed to catharsis, a mixture of pity and fear that prevented praxis on the part of the spectator and led him to look at the play as nothing but a fiction could not, or should not be applied to modern theatre, according to these thinkers. This is not to say that theatre in modern times have or have not adhered to these principles. While there have been adaptations of plays that do not seek to do anything but glorify imperial assumptions of race and class, there have also been ones that are political and seek to challenge the very assumptions that the earlier plays held. It is surprising that many of such plays began through a reversal of earlier roles as they were seen. One can look at the play A Tempest and understand its political implications through the reversal of the traditional roles of Caliban and Prospero. The heroic role is played by Caliban who is a monster in William Shakespeare’s version (Cesaire, 2002). This reversal of roles comes at the back of many changes that took place in theatre during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries when the ideals that Aristotle had laid down for theatre had been completely demolished. Even naturalist ideas that had dominated theatre for a while had been pulled down and new fluid conventions were erected in their place. Importance started to be given to the common man who then became the protagonist in many important plays. One of the most important examples of this can be seen in Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, where the protagonist, Willy Loman is a common salesman whose death forms the major part of the story (Miller, 2007). This needs to be looked at in conjunction with the theories that were propounded by John McGrath. In his book, he says, You go into a space, and some other people use certain devices to tell you a story. Because they have power over you, in a real sense, while you are there, they make a choice, with political implications, as to which story to tell - and how to tell it. If their work is good and skillfully written, presented and acted, we come out feeling exhilarated: we are more alive for seeing it, more aware of the possibilities of the human race, more fully human ourselves. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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