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Ibsen in a Time of Realism Realism in the theatre was a general movement in the later 19th century that steered theatrical texts and performances toward greater fidelity to real life The realist dramatists Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg in Scandinavia and Anton Chekhov and Maksim Gorky in Russia among others rejected the complex and artificial plotting of the well-made play and instead treated themes and conflicts belonging to a real contemporary society They dispensed with poetic language and extravagant diction instead using action and dialogue that looked and sounded like everyday behavior and speech Realism had no use for the declamatory delivery and the overblown virtuosity of past acting and replaced this style with one demanding natural movements gestures and speech Realist drama also used stage settings that accurately reproduced ordinary surroundings Henrik Johan Ibsen 1828-1906 as previously stated was a major Norwegian playwright of the late 19th century who introduced to the European stage a new order of moral analysis that was placed against a severely realistic middle-class background and developed with economy of action penetrating dialogue and rigorous thought Ibsen was born at Skien a small lumbering town of southern Norway His father was a respected general merchant in the community until 1836 when he suffered the permanent disgrace of going bankrupt As a result he sank into a querulous penury which his wifes withdrawn and somber religiosity did nothing to mitigate There was no redeeming the family misfortunes as soon as he could aged just 15 Henrik moved to Grimstad a hamlet of some 800 persons 70 miles down the coast There he supported himself meagerly as an apothecarys apprentice while studying nights for admission to the university And during this period he used his few leisure moments to write a play This work Catiline grew out of the Latin texts Ibsen had to study for his university examinations Though not a very good play it showed a
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