New Drama

Definition

Theater

  • A movement in British drama from approximately 1890 to 1914that introduced a new naturalism and advocated the use ofthe theater as a forum for social and political debate. Much influencedby Continental dramatists such as Ibsen, Strindberg,Maeterlinck, and Hauptmann, the movement receivedearly impetus from Henry Arthur Jones who, in 1884, adapted Ibsen'sA Doll's House as Breaking a Butterfly.

    The New Drama found its most powerful voice when George BernardShaw's first play Widowers' Houses was produced in1892. Shaw went on to use the stage as a platform from which to expoundhis views on a variety of social questions. The development of theso-called 'problem play' received early support from J. T. Grein,who encouraged the new realistic drama at his Independent Theatre.By 1893 even the farceur Arthur Wing Pinero had turned tothe genre with The Second Mrs Tanqueray.

    Interest in realism was also generated by Harley Granville-barker'sseasons at the Royal Court Theatre (1904 - 07), which inspiredthe creation of new theaters for the performance of naturalisticworks at Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. Granville-Barker'sown plays included The Voysey Inheritance (1905), which concernedthe ethical dilemmas of business, and The Madras House (1910),which dealt with the repression of women. Another writer associatedwith the New Drama was John Galsworthy, whose works included Justice(1910), and The Eldest Son (1912). see alsoIbsenism

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