- noun the technique of exaggerating elements such as lighting, sound etc. in order to show ideas and feelings
- noun an artistic movement that flourished in Germany between 1905 and 1925 whose adherents sought to represent feelings and moods rather than objective reality, often distorting colour and form
- noun a literary movement of the early 20th century, especially in the theatre, that represented external reality in a highly stylised and subjective manner, attempting to convey a psychological or spiritual reality rather than a record of actual events
- A movement in the early 20th-century theater that sought to replacerealism with a type of drama in which various antirealistictechniques are used to express the inner life of the characters.It was foreshadowed in the works of Strindberg at the turn of thecentury and in the grotesque plays of Frank Wedekind. Itcontinued to dominate the stage until the 1930s, when playwrightstook a renewed interest in realism.
Expressionism began with a reaction against realistic stagedesign, in which scenic detail sometimes seemed to reduce the significanceof the actors. Realistic acting came under attack next: writers playeddown the individualism of their characters, and W. B. Yeatswent so far as to hide his actors behind generalized masks.
Expressionism underwent its greatest development around 1910in Germany, in the works of Georg Kaiser, Ernst Toller,and others; it also influenced Brecht's development of Epic Theatre.In Britain such writers as W. H. Auden and T. S. Eliot were influencedby the movement, as were Thornton Wilder and Tennessee Williams inAmerica.
Although pure expressionism went out of fashion before WorldWar II, many playwrights have found commercial success by minglingit with realism; elements of expressionism can be found in the worksof Harold Pinter, Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre,and Eugene Ionesco.