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date: 17 January 2020


The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre

Phyllis Hartnoll,

Peter Found


movement in the theatre at the end of the 19th century which replaced the well-made play and the declamatory acting of the period by dramas which approximated in speech and situation to the social and domestic problems of everyday life, played by actors who spoke and moved naturally against scenery which reproduced with fidelity the usual surroundings of the people they represented. The movement began with Ibsen and spread rapidly across Europe, upsetting the established theatre and demanding a new type of actor to interpret the new plays. This was achieved by the system of Stanislavsky and by the later advocates of naturalism, the logical outcome of realism. (See also SOCIALIST REALISM.)