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Both these writers created their theories during times of political ferment when the place of the working class person was not a static one. The fluidity that this position offered gave a lot of scope for thinkers like McGrath and Bakhtin. Both these thinkers looked upon the conventions of theatre that privileged a catharsis inducing performance of a play as detrimental to the political fabric of modern democracies. They were thus, according to them, outdated. The principles of tragedy and theatre in general, which pointed to catharsis, a mixture of pity and fear that prevented praxis on the part of the spectator and led him to look at the play as nothing but a fiction could not, or should not be applied to modern theatre, according to these thinkers. This is not to say that theatre in modern times have or have not adhered to these principles. While there have been adaptations of plays that do not seek to do anything but glorify imperial assumptions of race and class, there have also been ones that are political and seek to challenge the very assumptions that the earlier plays held. It is surprising that many of such plays began through a reversal of earlier roles as they were seen. One can look at the play A Tempest and understand its political implications through the reversal of the traditional roles of Caliban and Prospero. The heroic role is played by Caliban who is a monster in William Shakespeare’s version (Cesaire, 2002). This reversal of roles comes at the back of many changes that took place in theatre during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries when the ideals that Aristotle had laid down for theatre had been completely demolished. Even naturalist ideas that had dominated theatre for a while had been pulled down and new fluid conventions were erected in their place. Importance started to be given to the common man who then became the protagonist in many important plays. One of the most important examples of this can be seen in Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, where the protagonist, Willy Loman is a common salesman whose death forms the major part of the story (Miller, 2007). This needs to be looked at in conjunction with the theories that were propounded by John McGrath. In his book, he says, You go into a space, and some other people use certain devices to tell you a story. Because they have power over you, in a real sense, while you are there, they make a choice, with political implications, as to which story to tell - and how to tell it…. If their work is good and skillfully written, presented and acted, we come out feeling exhilarated: we are more alive for seeing it, more aware of the possibilities of the human race, more fully human ourselves. So far, so wonderfully universal. But this story we watch can have a meaning: a very specific meaning. What if we are black, say, and we go to see some splendidly effective, but com­pletely racist theatre show? Are we quite so exhilarated? Quite so fully human? Or would we not feel demeaned, excluded from humanity, diminished in our possibilities and a great deal more pessimistic about the future of the human race than when we went in? The meaning, and value, of theatre can clearly change from country to country, group ...Show more
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An analysis of Modern theatre Your Name Name of the Instructor An analysis of Modern theatre Written with a Marxist intent, or at least a Marxist bent of mind, John McGrath’s A Good Night Out and Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and his World talk about the possibility of a theater that is not restricted to the upper class white audience that it was restricted to for a long time in the West…
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