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.
Vaudeville arrived in America in the 1880s and became a hugely popular form of cultural entertainment for the next fifty years. Consisting of a series of short, non-related acts on a single bill, vaudeville’s eclectic list of variety performances involved anything from live animals, jugglers, magicians and singers to comedians, dancers, clowns, and female and male impersonators. The form gradually died out due to the competing medium of motion pictures. This page contains a collection of curated resources on the history and characteristics of vaudeville.
Often considered a sub-genre of the crime and mystery genres, the whodunit play is a thrilling plot-driven detective story. Suspenseful throughout, the aim of a whodunit is to discover who committed the murder? The audience normally witnesses the perfect crime, while suspects are then wrongly accused. Agatha Christie’s whodunit The Mousetrap ran continuously on London’s West End from 1952 to 2020, making it the longest first run of any play in history. J. B . Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls (1945) is another fine example of the genre.
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.
Realism as a theatre movement emerged in Europe in the latter part of the 19th century. As a genuine theatre style, realism was a reaction against romanticism and the sensationalism of melodrama which dominated the stages of Europe and America for much of the 1800s. The realistic movement continues to influence theatre to this day.
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.