Constantin Stanislavsky, famed Russian actor, director, and teacher, profoundly influenced the theater of the 20th century and beyond. Throughout his long life, he developed a variety techniques that became known as "The Stanislavsky System".
French theorist, Antonin Artaud, is best known for his performance style, "Theatre of Cruelty". This aimed to shock the audiences by focusing on confronting and sometimes violent images to appeal to the audiences' emotions. His theatre was designed to shock the senses and his intention was to trap the audiences inside the drama.
Aside from the Theatre of Cruelty, Artaud's approach to acting reflected challenges that he faced in his own life. Spending much of his later life in and out of asylums, suffering from depression, and addicted to opium, Artaud drew on his own life experience in his approach to theatre, often working with the concept of "inner beasts": the ugly, self-destructive parts of ourselves that we hate.
A person actively engaged in an theatre. In Drama we study significant theatre practitioners who have had an impact on the way we approach drama.
Grotowski was best known for his comprehensive acting system that he developed during the 1960s and 70s, which was the most significant approach to role work since the work of Sanislavsky. With small groups of actors Grotowski experimented with physical, spiritual and ritualistic aspects of theatre, the nature of role, and the relationship between the actors and the audience.
A key figure in avant-garde theatre, Grotowski is recognised as both a great director and an innovator of the experimental theatre movement. Amongst his work is the style of 'Poor Theatre', which is a style that aims to rid the theatre of excess (lavish costumes and detailed sets) and, instead, focus on the skill of the actors. Few props are used in this style of theatre, requiring the actors to use physical skill to transform simple props into other objects of significance.
Grotowski liked to perform works outside of traditional theatre spaces; choosing, instead, to use regular buildings and rooms with the audience placed on many sides of the acting space, and sometimes carefully arranged within it.
German poet, playwright and theatre director, Bertolt Brecht was an influential figure in 20th century theatre. He is best know for his epic theatre form, and distancing techniques.
Brecht worked with a team of people to work tirelessly as a theatre practitioner to apply his theories through one of the great theatre companies, the Berliner Ensemble. He also wrote over fifty plays.
Whilst other practitioners, such as Grotowski, preferred to teach actors through use of conventions and workshops, Brecht chose to introduce his epic theatre concepts by working on theatre performances.
In stark contrast with Artaud, Brecht's theatrical ideas were very clear, and set in concrete, meaning they have been able to be easily applied by many generations of actors.
Brecht's work often had a strong message for the viewer, and sometimes they included songs, storytellers and narrators, projection, placards, and actors directly addressing the audience to make this message clear.