Modern period and its drama were shaped by world-changing forces, such as industrial-technological, democratic, and intellectual revolution that have disrupted earlier conceptions of time, space, the divine, human psychology, and social order. As a result, a theatre of challenge and experimentation emerged.
Realism, has an Aristotelian overtone, involves a scientific and objective outlook of life: “the world as it is, in psychological, sociological, political, and like terms” (Lowry 94). It’s a movement with the most pervasive and long-lived effect on modern theatre was conceived as a laboratory in which the ills of society, familial problems, and the nature of relationships could be objectively presented for the judgement of impartial observers. Its goal of likeness to life demanded that settings resemble their prescribed locales precisely. The playwright Henrik Ibsen initiated the realistic movement with plays focused on contemporary, day-to-day themes, capturing psychological detail. Anton Chekhov in Russia, has brought the form to its stylistic apogee with plays whose even minor characters seem to breathe the air we do and in which the plots and themes are developed primarily between the lines.
Naturalism is an even more extreme attempt to dramatize human reality without the appearance of dramaturgical shaping. The naturalistic vision draws its strength from empiricism in philosophy, which Ian Watt has related to “the rise of the modern novel and from this the development of science in Europe since the early seventeenth century” (Gaskell 14). With the same reverence for nature, the human being was conceived as a mere biological phenomenon whose behaviour was determined by heredity and environment.
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