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Category: Styles

Melodrama Resources for Students and Teachers

Melodrama, derived from the Greek “melos” (music) and the French “drame” (drama), was a form of theatrical entertainment popular in Europe and America from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. While melodramatic plots were often romantic depictions of everyday life showcasing heightened emotions (stemming from earlier sentimental dramas), the staging of these was nothing short of spectacular. Characters were usually archetypal figures such as villains, victims and heroes.

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Comedy of Humours Resources

Comedy of humours is an historical form of comedy linked to Elizabethan playwright Ben Jonson in such works as Everyman in His Humour (1598) and Everyman out of His Humour (1599). It is based on the premise that the human body consists of four liquids – blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile – all representing a different type of humour (or temperament). This in turn affected character behaviour in the drama.

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Naturalism Theatre Resources

The naturalistic theatre movement emerged in the mid 19th century and was first introduced by French novelist, critic and playwright Emile Zola in the preface to his novel Thérèse Raquin (1867), which the author later adapted into a stage play (first performed in 1873). Naturalism demanded a slice of life authenticity in every aspect of production and is not to be confused with realism.

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Problem Play Resources

The problem play, or play of ideas, contains strong characterisation and topical social issues. The genre is typically thought to have reached its maturity in the late 1800s with some of the works of Henrik Ibsen such as A Doll’s House (1879), Ghosts (1882), and An Enemy of the People (1882). These realistic social dramas frankly portrayed current social issues on the stage.

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Jukebox Musical Resources

A jukebox musical is a musical theatre work centring on a collection of songs, usually by a single artist or group, and typically part of a back catalogue. The plot is often created around the story of the songs. While this technique has attracted criticism by some, the shows are often blockbusters such as Mamma Mia! (ABBA), Jersey Boys (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical .

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History Play Resources

A history play, also known as a chronicle play, is a dramatic work where the events of the plot are either partially or entirely drawn from history. It is also considered a theatrical genre. William Shakespeare wrote ten of these plays, each loosely based on an English monarch and the period in which he reigned. Importantly, these plays remain works of fiction, whether based on an historical figure or not.

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Guerrilla Theatre Resources

Guerrilla theatre is a form of theatrical protest popularised in America in the 1960s by the San Fransisco Mime Troupe. Commedia dell’Arte and satire were actually the group’s principal modes of performance, not mime. At its purest, guerrilla theatre was left-wing political activism in the form of avant-garde performance in non-traditional spaces such as public parks and sidewalks.

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Magical Realism Resources for the Theatre

Magical realism (sometimes referred to as magic realism) is a term first used in the art world by German critic Franz Roh (1925) and later in literature by Cuban author Alejo Carpentier (1949). Characteristics of the genre typically include the coexistence of the real and the fantastical, the natural and the supernatural, the normal and magical worlds. In magical realism, elements of fantasy are accepted.

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