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Word Count: 1,125
Expressionism is an attempt to discover a technique and method which will express what the dramatist imagines the inner reality of his drama to be more perfectly and impressively than any of the other dramatic styles of theatre are capable of doing The dramatist attempts to show not objective but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events awaken in them The Expressionist theatre movement developed in Germany around 1905 It was characterised by attempts to dramatise of set which held a strong symbolic meaning Expressionist playwrights tried to convey the dehumanising aspects of 20th century German theatre of which Georg Kaiser and Ernst Toller were the most famous playwrights They looked back to Swedish playwright August Strindberg and German actor and dramatist Frank Wedekind as ancestors of their dramaturgical experiments Other early expressionist playwrights include Elmer Rice Karel Capek Eugene ONeill and Hans Henry Jahnn The traditional audiences for this kind of theatre were to put it bluntly socialist hippies They were home in Germany during wartime and expressed their political ideals by attending and performing in these somewhat underground playhouses After WW1 materials became once more available to the arts and expressionist directors used large and elaborate sets which added extra dimensions to the genre like screening images onto the stage or having moving sets Oskar Kokaschkas 1909 playlet Murder The Hope of Women is often called the first expressionist play In it an un-named man and woman struggle for control The man brands the woman she stabs and imprisons him He frees himself and she falls dead at his touch A the play ends he slaughter everything and everyone around him The extreme simplification to mythic types harmonic effects and heightened intensity all would become characteristics of later expressionist plays Expressionism is a protest on the one hand against the sentimental unrealities of Romanticism and on the other hand against the tendency of realism or naturalism
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