The Role of Mythology in the Twentieth Century French Theater

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Theater, French, mythology, twentieth century, plays


Classics | European History | French and Francophone Language and Literature | Theatre and Performance Studies


Before we consider the role of classical mythology in the twentieth century French theater, it would be well to review briefly the development of French drama in the last one hundred and fifty years. The romantic theater extended from 1827 to 1843; the realistic drama, from 1848 to around 1870; the naturalistic drama, in its experimental stage, from 1865 to 1885; and the Theatre Libre, under the direction of its founder, Andre Antoine, from 1887 to 1894. The latter movement was strongly influenced by Emile Zola, and in its efforts to present the tranche de vie employed realism in subject matter, and simplicity, naturalness, and appropriateness in the emotional development of characters, the acting, and the staging. After the Theatre Libre, the various dramatic movements in France ceased following one another in chronological order. In fact, they overlapped. Even during the short span of existence of the Theatre Libre, such literary schools as the symbolistic, the neo-romantic, and others had come into being.

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