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The Theory of the Theatre   By: (1881-1946)

Book cover

First Page:

Uniform with This Volume

Studies in Stagecraft

By CLAYTON HAMILTON

Second Printing

CONTENT: The New Art of Making Plays. The Pictorial Stage. The Decorative Drama. The Drama of Illusion. The Modern Art of Stage Direction. A Plea for a New Type of Play. The Period of Pragmatism. The Undramatic Drama. The Value of Stage Conventions. The Supernatural Drama. The Irish National Theatre. The Personality of the Playwright. Themes and Stories of the Stage. Plausibility in Plays. Infirmity of Purpose. Where to Begin a Play. Continuity of Structure. Rhythm and Tempo. The Plays of Yesteryear. A New Defense of Melodrama. The Art of the Moving Picture Play. The One Act Play in America. Organizing an Audience. The Function of Dramatic Criticism.

$1.50 net

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

NEW YORK

THE THEORY OF THE THEATRE

AND OTHER PRINCIPLES OF DRAMATIC CRITICISM

BY

CLAYTON HAMILTON

AUTHOR OF "MATERIALS AND METHODS OF FICTION"

NEW YORK

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

Published April, 1910

TO

BRANDER MATTHEWS

MENTOR AND FRIEND

WHO FIRST AWAKENED MY CRITICAL INTEREST IN THE THEORY OF THE THEATRE

PREFACE

Most of the chapters which make up the present volume have already appeared, in earlier versions, in certain magazines; and to the editors of The Forum , The North American Review , The Smart Set , and The Bookman , I am indebted for permission to republish such materials as I have culled from my contributions to their pages. Though these papers were written at different times and for different immediate circles of subscribers, they were all designed from the outset to illustrate certain steady central principles of dramatic criticism; and, thus collected, they afford, I think, a consistent exposition of the most important points in the theory of the theatre. The introductory chapter, entitled What is a Play? , has not, in any form, appeared in print before; and all the other papers have been diligently revised, and in many passages entirely rewritten.

C.H.

NEW YORK CITY: 1910.

CONTENTS

THE THEORY OF THE THEATRE

CHAPTER PAGE

I. WHAT IS A PLAY? 3 II. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THEATRE AUDIENCES 30 III. THE ACTOR AND THE DRAMATIST 59 IV. STAGE CONVENTIONS IN MODERN TIMES 73 V. ECONOMY OF ATTENTION IN THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES 95 VI. EMPHASIS IN THE DRAMA 112 VII. THE FOUR LEADING TYPES OF DRAMA 127 VIII. THE MODERN SOCIAL DRAMA 133

OTHER PRINCIPLES OF DRAMATIC CRITICISM

I. THE PUBLIC AND THE DRAMATIST 153 II. DRAMATIC ART AND THE THEATRE BUSINESS 161 III. THE HAPPY ENDING IN THE THEATRE 169 IV. THE BOUNDARIES OF APPROBATION 175 V. IMITATION AND SUGGESTION IN THE DRAMA 179 VI. HOLDING THE MIRROR UP TO NATURE 184 VII. BLANK VERSE ON THE CONTEMPORARY STAGE 193 VIII. DRAMATIC LITERATURE AND THEATRIC JOURNALISM 199 IX. THE INTENTION OF PERMANENCE 207 X. THE QUALITY OF NEW ENDEAVOR 212 XI. THE EFFECT OF PLAYS UPON THE PUBLIC 217 XII. PLEASANT AND UNPLEASANT PLAYS 222 XIII. THEMES IN THE THEATRE 228 XIV. THE FUNCTION OF IMAGINATION 233

INDEX 241

THE THEORY OF THE THEATRE

I

WHAT IS A PLAY?

A play is a story devised to be presented by actors on a stage before an audience.

This plain statement of fact affords an exceedingly simple definition of the drama, a definition so simple indeed as to seem at the first glance easily obvious and therefore scarcely worthy of expression. But if we examine the statement thoroughly, phrase by phrase, we shall see that it sums up within itself the entire theory of the theatre, and that from this primary axiom we may deduce the whole practical philosophy of dramatic criticism... Continue reading book >>




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