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. Audiences soon began to seek more believable plots, characters, sets and costumes on the stage. Characters in realistic plays were more middle class than those in most naturalistic dramas and the subject matter was less sordid. Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler) is often considered the father of modern realism. – Justin Cash
Realism Theatre Resources
Excellent overview of the introduction of the movement on the European stage in the mid-1900s.
An excellent article focuses on various aspects of the realist and naturalist movements in the theatre including definitions, major works, playwrights and other practitioners.
Brief summary of 20th century “American realism” from Oxford Research Encyclopedia.
A brief history of realism in the theatre, with examples. useful for students.
Brief Wikipedia entry on realism in the theatre as a dramatic form.
This a very handy article on realism in literature and its various conventions that can easily be translated to playwrighting and the stage.
An easy-to-understand student project on the emergence of this movement in the theatre.
Wikipedia entry detailing the emergence of this theatre movement in Russia and the United States.
Explanation of the well-made play formula adhered to by many realist playwrights, first developed around 1825 by French dramatist Eugene Scribe.
Overview of the genre including the emergence of the movement and key playwrights.
A useful summary of the key conventions of this style at a glance.