The new drama

Authored by: Robert Leach

An Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9780415725163
eBook ISBN: 9780429463679
Adobe ISBN:


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Modernism found its first convincing dramatic expression in naturalism, in the plays of Ibsen and Chekhov, and soon in British plays, too. The tenets of naturalism were first expounded by Emile Zola who called for the rejection of ‘the tricks of the trade, the contrived formulas, the tears and superficial laughs’ and for their replacement by ‘the naturalistic formula which makes the stage a study and picture of real life’. 1 Deriving a positivist approach from Taine, Darwin and Comte and recognising that the old categories of good and evil were being rendered redundant by biology and psychology, Zola sought ‘the gradual substitution of physiological man for metaphysical man’ 2 and argued that ‘environment (should) determine the characters and the characters (should) act according to the logic of their own dispositions’. 3

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