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Victorian Melodrama

Victorian Melodrama

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  • Victorian Melodrama

  • Historical ContextThe Industrial Revolution1800'sShift from Rural to Urban living.Scientific discoveries led to machines.Some people became extremely rich, but most ended up very poor.

  • Living Conditions and ConsequencesTerrible overcrowdingDiseaseAlcoholismHelpless in the face of the rich

  • Current Event!

  • What does Melodrama mean?A drama characterized by exaggerated emotions, stereotypical characters, and interpersonal conflicts.Melo - MusicDrama - DramaOnly two Theatres in London allowed to present dramas.Covent Garden, Drury LaneLicensed by the king.Other Theatres were required to have musical intervals.Popular romantic dramas known as Melo-dramas.Included songs during the performances and between scenes and at interval.RomaticismEmotional theatre.

  • History of MelodramaBecame a Theatrical form in about 1800.Ren Charles Guilbert de Pixercourt La Femme a deux marisFirst English play to be called a Melodrama A Tale of Mystery (1802) by Thomas HolcroftReaction to immorality of Restoration plays.

  • Features of Melodrama

    Exaggerated and stylised movement and extended vocal technique expressing extreme emotions and sentimentalityBased on the large size of the theatres of the time and the exaggerated characteristics/ behaviours of the charactersStereotyped charactersUsually one dimensional, they do not change psychologically or morallyGood vs Evil: moral struggleThe human struggle between pure good (usually poor and downtrodden) vs pure evil (usually the rich, greedy or powerful). There is strict observance of poetic justice good always rewarded and evil always punished.Audience interaction (breaking the 4th wall)Maximum sense of empowerment. The people in the audience may be helpless at home but they can beat the bad guys at the show.Spectacular eventse.g. Chases, explosions, battles, fights, fierce arguments, sea voyages, supernatural events. These helped people to forget their own troubles for a while.

  • Fast paced dramatic plotsExciting story, suspense, plot twists (discoveries, hairbreadth escapes, secret passages, hiding places, disguises)Audience responseVery basic emotional appeals involve arousal of pity and indignation at the wrongful oppression of good people and intense dislike for wicked oppressorsExotic locationsExotic/far away or ugly/desperate or lush/beautiful never ordinary

  • Melodrama's Stock Characters1. Hero: Handsome, strong, brave, honest and reliable. Status: Middle Class or Higher2. Heroine: Beautiful, courageous, innocent and vulnerable. Status: Middle Class or Higher3. Villain: Cunning, without morals, dishonest, cruel and evil. Status: Middle Class or Higher4. Villain's Accomplice: Comic relief, bumbling sidekick.Status: Lower Class5. Faithful servant: Also provides comic relief, does dirty work. Usually discovers evidence against the villain. Status: Lower Class6. Maid servant: Female character who is lively and flirts with the faithful servant. Status: Lower Class

  • Staging, TechnologyProscenium ArchMachinery available for complicated setsFly towers & CounterweightTreadmillsElectric lightingSensation melodramasDisaster's happened on stageThe Poor of New York Dion BoucicaultReal fire engines put out a real fire.