A Blagger’s Guide to…Modern Theatre

So, what is it?

Modern Theatre is an umbrella term for theatre from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. Back in the late 1800s it tried to move away from the more stylised and showy theatre of the Renaissance, aiming to strip performances back to their most basic and natural form.

What about now?

At the moment there is a focus on audience interaction, location and newsworthy subjects.

Any big names?

Henrik Ibsen is often credited with starting the Naturalist movement with his play A Doll’s House and Bertolt Brecht brought Epic Theatre onto the scene with plays such as Caucasian Chalk Circle and Mother Courage and Her Children. Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard are more modern examples.

What are these movements?

They’re off-shoots of modernist theatre, each bringing a new perspective to performances. For example: Naturalism aims to show everyday life as it is on stage and the recent In-Yer-Face Theatre trend aims to get, well, in yer face.

Anything else?

Use the term “Modern” with a pinch of salt. You’ll upset the Director. Stick with Post-post-urban-apocalyptic-modern. Has much more of a ring, wouldn’t you say?

Sophie Watson


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