Modern theatre exists within a framework of different schools of thought, different ways of
interpreting how art is or should be presented on the stage, systems which have been
constructed or constructed themselves around seemingly binary and universal oppositions that make it impossible for theatrical works to be said to exist outside of them. Either a play seeks empathic connection with it’s audience and is part of the naturalist tradition or it does not and by refusing to do so is seeking effects in line with the epic theatre. Either a director seeks to create a realist illusion of the actual world on stage or by choosing not to do so falls into the category of expressionistic theatre. Every artistic philosophy related to the stage seems to set itself up in direct opposition to an alternative one creating this inescapable trap of ‘either-or’. This Final Year Project explores the nature of such theatrical dichotomies and aims to, through analysis of their theoretical/philosophical foundations as well as study of their physical and practical
manifestations, divest them of some of their status as oppositions, placing them instead in a concordant paradigm of mutual influence, thought and method. The successive chapters of this document will in turn (1) explore and challenge the dichotomous status of several dominant theatrical philosophies from their historical origins to their relationships with each other, (2) take the discordant elements of these philosophies out of context and look at their relation to world philosophy and politics throughout selected times in human history, (3) look for relationships between the differing dramatic schools of thought in instances of their production while paying specific attention to their individual methods for the instruction of practitioners and (4) again take the differing trends out of a theatrical context and look at their relationships as part of modern media and culture, focusing on where such trends blend ideas. Particular attention will be paid throughout to naturalism (as defined within) due to the
frequent conception in modern culture of the form as the base line or standard for theatre.