Modern Theatre And Emile Zola, Naturalism In The Theatre

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“Imagination no longer has a function”, says Emile Zola in his essay, ‘Naturalism in the Theatre’. Many of the ideas which Zola has discussed in this essay have been taken up by modern theatre, both in theory and practice. Modern theatre, for instance, is aware of the fact that analysis and not synthesis should be the basis for theatrical production. It is with this theory at the back of his mind that Bertolt Brecht has discussed theatre’s role as an educator only if the elements associated with spectacle are removed from theatre.
Zola was one of the first writers who puts forth the idea of talking about contemporary art forms by reflecting upon contemporary circumstances and not, for example, by blaming Aristotle for giving useless theories; this is also the concept that theoreticians of modern tragedy like Arthur Miller, John Gassner, Howard Barkner, George Steiner, Albert Camus and many more have taken up. Many of them suggest changes in nomenclature so that the ideas associated with those names change according to the times.
Samuel Beckett, one of the leading playwrights of the 20th Century, also shares his roots with the naturalist ideas. He is one of the best known proponents of the Absurd Theatre as discussed by Martin Esslin in his book titled, The Theatre of the Absurd. However, when he moves from his earlier writing to a later one where the characters become extremely impersonal, he is achieving what Zola suggests in his essay ‘Naturalism in the Theatre’ for
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