• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Contrasting Lee Breuer and Stanislavski productions

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare and contrast the work of Lee Breuer with that of Konstantin Stanislavski At the end of the 19th century, Konstantin Stanislavski (1863-1938) laid the foundations of realism in theatre. His innovative approach shattered the melodramatic stage conventions in his contemporary Russia and across Europe. After more than a century of radical change, both within the theatre and outside of it, Stanislavski's naturalistic ideals, and his faithfulness to the original text, continue to influence directors across the world. However, wherever there is a prevalent style there will be those who disavow it in favour of a more progressive, avant-garde approach. Lee Breuer, director of the Mabou Mines company based in New York, is one such artist. Breuer's radical productions have earned critical acclaim for their fundamental deconstruction of classic plays like King Lear (where he gender reversed the lead role), using the original text as a stimulus from which a blend of styles emerge and extracting another element of meaning from famous plays which are often reproduced without much innovative artistic merit. His production of Dollhouse, an adaptation of Ibsen's revolutionary social drama, illuminates acutely the comparison between Stanislavski, the conservative realist, and Breuer, the avant-garde "auteur". So, in comparing the work of these two artists, what can we hope to discover? Though separated by a hundred years of theatrical innovation, is there a common element fundamental to their different styles? How exactly do they differ, and what ideologies and justifications lie behind each interpretative choice they make? Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre was originally housed in the Hermitage theatre, a shallow proscenium arch stage with a curtain raising to unveil the onstage action. ...read more.

Middle

Another director Bergman inspired Breuer in his use of monologues performed to camera/audience. Breuer's other productions have been just as radical in their deconstruction of famous texts. In 1982, he reworked a play by the classical writer Sophocles, renaming it Gospel At Colonus, complete with an African American gospel choir. In Lear, in1989, he gender reversed the roles, casting Ruth Maleczech as the lead, an aging matriarch of a family in 1950s Georgia. Stanislavski's productions, while evolving in style across the decades of his life, remained largely true to his ideal of psychological realism. In particular, his productions of Chekhov's plays, The Seagull, for example, were exercises in acute naturalism, and a nuanced expression of complex subtext beneath little surface action. As he aged, he increasingly recognised the need not to merely approximate and replicate life in all its trivial details, but to distil them into an essence. This was the goal of realism, as opposed to naturalism. While avoiding the overtly political, he shared with Russian writer Gogol the belief that theatre had a moral responsibility to the masses, and that it should have a social conscience. Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre was set up with this as its aim: "to ennoble the mind and uplift the spirit". Breuer would of course recognise the importance of theatre as more than a frivolous entertainment, but as both an art form and a "pulpit" from which a message is preached, and society civilised. A curious parallel to be drawn between the Mabou Mines company and the Moscow Art Theatre is the conflict between director and dramaturg. With Dollhouse, Breuer believed that the story should be seen from Torvald's perspective, whereas his literary adviser (and lead actress) ...read more.

Conclusion

Not a single cricket." It can be argued that Stanislavski's zealous quest to create a world offstage undermined the power of Chekhov's subtle symbolic use of sound contained in the text. Breuers use of music is vastly opposed to the style Stanislavski supported. The piano gives the movement a romantic, melodramatic feel, heightening emotion and creating an almost silent-movie effect. The last act is, for a large portion, carried out in opera style, the dramatics only ending to illustrate the empty, mute desolation that Nora's act of empowerment leaves with Torvald. Music becomes another vehicle for Breuer's literal expression of the subtext, when Krogstadt's ascending violin reflects his sexual climax in an onstage moment with Mrs Linde. The same conflict of values (realism versus symbolism/the avant garde) in the use of lighting and costume. Stanislavski favoured directional lighting, used to set the action into context, whereas Breuer uses lighting symbolically. For example, Krogstadt, played at first as an archetypal villain, is swathed in green fresnel at his entrance, and strobe is used during Nora's dance scene to symbolise the disintegration of her fragile world. Similarly, Stanislavski's costumes were meticulously researched (he travelled to Paris for his production of Othello) in order to achieve authenticity. For Dollhouse, Breuer used period costumes but utilised colour as a vehicle for symbolism. In conclusion, while Stanislavski and Breuer are radically different in almost every aspect of their style and approach, the latter is, in a way, carrying on the tradition of the former. By this I mean to say that Breuer is innovating on the stage today just as Stanislavski broke free of theatrical convention more than one hundred years ago. Visionary figures like these two directors are vital to the evolution of theatre as a vehicle for meaning, and as a living art. Bryn Davies. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Theatre Studies section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Theatre Studies essays

  1. Stanislavski sought to create a "sense of truth" in his productions - Explain what ...

    Through using these techniques the actor use logical consecutiveness justifying everything and therefore doesn't overact, he then doesn't force himself and will believe in what he is doing as it is the same as in the real life. These techniques make the actor believe in their own actions and their character and they become convincing.

  2. Theatre crosses social barriers. Evaluate this quote.

    This shows that theatre does not cross social barrier. Much of the history of Kabuki in the 17th to 18th century ended with Shougun banishing the actors and dancers, and considered them as social outcasts where as theatre managers were known as riverbed beggars.

  1. Explain how you would want your audience to respond to Tesman in Hedda Garbler. ...

    61). Hedda cuts him off, rejecting his idea "If--?" (p. 62). Tesman backs down and leaves the suggestion unspoken. Why doesn't he insist? Another consideration in analyzing Tesman is his response to the news that Hedda has burned the manuscript. Initially he expresses "a violent movement of terror" (p.

  2. How does the staging of the original production of Equus illustrate the play’s themes?

    The entire set is also a conflict ideas and Dysart is almost against Strang in the boxing ring. It represents reason versus passion; medicine versus worship; and modern versus ancient. The benches also show that every actor is involved in Strang's and Dysart's spiritual journey or struggle.

  1. Stage lighting - A guide.

    When deciding this, bear in mind the rules about keeping actors shadows constant, and about mixing colours. The next step is to create a lighting plan. These are similar to electronic circuit drawings, in that they are not artist's impressions, but technical drawings.

  2. Two scenes from the play "Whose Life Is It Anyway" and how I would ...

    . . Bloody administrators. In this job a degree in accountancy would be more valuable to me than my M.D. . . . . . Still, what can do for you?" At this point the director would have Dr.

  1. Three Sisters, Anton Chekhov. Stanislavski's 'Magic If' as it pertains to the character Toozenbach ...

    It is of course important to attain a good grasp and understanding of relaxation and concetration before one goes on to the Magic If. So we once pick up the script, read it once, form certain ideas, read it again and clarify more for oneself.

  2. The Devising Process

    He states that: 'The emotions of a reader differ in quality from those of an onlooker... suppose you were a witness... it would be easier to reproduce those feelings and share sympathetic feelings... feel the situation of the person so keenly you actually put yourself in their place.'

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work