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Vaudeville

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies.

Vaudeville developed from many sources, including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows, dime museums, and literary burlesque. Called "the heart of American show business," vaudeville was one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America for several decades.[1]

Etymology

The origin of the term is obscure, but is often explained as being derived from the expression voix de ville, or "voice of the city." Another plausible etymology finds origins in the French Vau de Vire, a valley in Normandy noted for its style of satirical songs with topical themes.[2] The term vaudeville, referring specifically to North American variety entertainment, came into common usage after 1871 with the formation of Sargent's Great Vaudeville Company of Louisville, Kentucky. It had little, if anything, to do with the Comédie en vaudeville of the French theatre.[3]

Leavitt's and Sargent's shows differed little from the coarser material presented in earlier itinerant entertainments, although their use of the term to provide a veneer of respectability points to an early effort to cater variety amusements to the growing middle class. Though vaudeville had been used in the United States as early as the 1830s, most variety theatres adopted the term in the late 1880s and early 1890s for two reasons. First, seeking middle class patrons, they wished to distance themselves from the earlier rowdy, working-class variety halls. Second, the French or pseudo-French term lent an air of sophistication, and perhaps made the institution seem more consistent with the Progressive Era's interests in education and self-betterment. Some, however, preferred the earlier term "variety" to what manager Tony Pastor called its "sissy and Frenchified" successor. Thus, vaudeville was marketed as "variety" well into the twentieth century.

Beginnings

A descendant of variety, (c. 1860s–1881), vaudeville was distinguished from the earlier form by its mixed-gender audience, usually alcohol-free halls, and often slavish devotion to inculcating favor among members of the middle class.[clarification needed] The form gradually evolved from the concert saloon and variety hall into its mature form throughout the 1870s and 1880s. This more genteel form was known as "Polite Vaudeville."[4]

In the years before the American Civil War, entertainment existed on a different scale. Certainly, variety theatre existed before 1860 in Europe and elsewhere. In the United States, as early as the first decades of the 19th century, theatregoers could enjoy a performance consisting of Shakespeare plays, acrobatics, singing, dancing, and comedy. As the years progressed, people seeking diversified amusement found an increasing number of ways to be entertained. A handful of circuses regularly toured the country; dime museums appealed to the curious; amusement parks, riverboats, and town halls often featured "cleaner" presentations of variety entertainment; and saloons, music halls and burlesque houses catered to those with a taste for the risqué. In the 1840s, minstrel shows, another type of variety performance, and "the first emanation of a pervasive and purely American mass culture," grew to enormous popularity and formed what Nick Tosches called "the heart of 19th-century show business."[5] Medicine shows traveled the countryside offering programs of comedy, music, jugglers and other novelties along with displays of tonics, salves, and miracle elixirs, while "Wild West" shows provided romantic vistas of the disappearing frontier, complete with trick riding, music and drama. Vaudeville incorporated these various itinerant amusements into a stable, institutionalized form centered in America's growing urban hubs.

In the early 1880s, impresario Tony Pastor, a circus ringmaster turned theatre manager, capitalized on middle class sensibilities and spending power when he began to feature "polite" variety programs in several of his New York City theatres. The usual date given for the "birth" of vaudeville is October 24, 1881, when Pastor famously staged the first bill of self-proclaimed "clean" vaudeville in New York City. Hoping to draw a potential audience from female and family-based shopping traffic uptown, Pastor barred the sale of liquor in his theatres, eliminated bawdy material from his shows, and offered gifts of coal and hams to attendees. Pastor's experiment proved successful, and other managers soon followed suit.

Popularity

  1. F. Keith took the next step, starting in Boston, where he built an empire of theatres and brought vaudeville to the United States and Canada. Later, E. F. Albee, adoptive grandfather of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, managed the chain to its greatest success. Circuits such as those managed by Keith-Albee provided vaudeville's greatest economic innovation and the principal source of its industrial strength. They enabled a chain of allied vaudeville houses that remedied the chaos of the single-theatre booking system by contracting acts for regional and national tours. These could easily be lengthened from a few weeks to two years.

Albee also gave national prominence to vaudeville's trumpeting "polite" entertainment, a commitment to entertainment equally inoffensive to men, women and children. Acts that violated this ethos (e.g., those that used words such as "hell") were admonished and threatened with expulsion from the week's remaining performances or were canceled altogether. In spite of such threats, performers routinely flouted this censorship, often to the delight of the very audience members whose sensibilities were supposedly endangered.

By the late 1890s, vaudeville had large circuits, houses (small and large) in almost every sizable location, standardized booking, broad pools of skilled acts, and a loyal national following. One of the biggest circuits was Martin Beck's Orpheum Circuit. It incorporated in 1919 and brought together 45 vaudeville theaters in 36 cities throughout the United States and Canada and a large interest in two vaudeville circuits. Another major circuit was that of Alexander Pantages. At his hey-day Pantages owned more than 30 vaudeville theaters and controlled, through management contracts, perhaps 60 more in both the United States and Canada.

At its height, vaudeville played across multiple strata of economic class and auditorium size. On the vaudeville circuit, it was said that if an act would succeed in Peoria, Illinois, it would work anywhere. The question "Will it play in Peoria?" has now become a metaphor for whether something appeals to the American mainstream public. The three most common levels were the “small time” (lower-paying contracts for more frequent performances in rougher, often converted theatres), the “medium time” (moderate wages for two performances each day in purpose-built theatres), and the “big time” (possible remuneration of several thousand dollars per week in large, urban theatres largely patronized by the middle and upper-middle classes). As performers rose in renown and established regional and national followings, they worked their way into the less arduous working conditions and better pay of the big time. The capitol of the big time was New York City's Palace Theatre (or just “The Palace” in the slang of vaudevillians), built by Martin Beck in 1913 and operated by Keith. Featuring a bill stocked with inventive novelty acts, national celebrities, and acknowledged masters of vaudeville performance (such as comedian and trick roper Will Rogers), the Palace provided what many vaudevillians considered the apotheoses of remarkable careers.

While the neighborhood character of vaudeville attendance had always promoted a tendency to tailor fare to specific audiences, mature vaudeville grew to feature houses and circuits specifically aimed at certain demographic groups. African-American patrons, often segregated into the rear of the second gallery in white-oriented theatres, had their own smaller circuits, as did speakers of Italian and Yiddish. (For a brief discussion of Black vaudeville, see Theater Owners Booking Association.) White-oriented regional circuits, such as New England's "Peanut Circuit", also provided essential training grounds for new artists while allowing established acts to experiment with and polish new material. At its height, vaudeville was rivaled only by churches and public schools among the nation's premiere public gathering places.

Decline

The shift of New York City's Palace Theatre, vaudeville's epicenter, to an exclusively cinema presentation on 16 November 1932 is often considered to have been the death knell of vaudeville.[6] No single event is more reflective of its gradual withering. The line is blurred, however, by the number of vaudeville entrepreneurs who made more or less successful forays into the movie business. For example, Alexander Pantages quickly realized the importance of motion pictures as a form of entertainment. He incorporated them in his shows as early as 1902. Later, he entered into partnership with the motion picture distributor Famous Players, a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures. There was no abrupt end to vaudeville, though the form was clearly sagging by the late 1920s.

The continued growth of the lower-priced cinema in the early 1910s dealt the heaviest blow to vaudeville. This was similar to the advent of free broadcast television's diminishing the cultural and economic strength of the cinema. Cinema was first regularly commercially presented in the United States in vaudeville halls. The first public showing of movies projected on a screen took place at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in 1896. Lured by greater salaries and less arduous working conditions, many early film and old-time radio performers, such as Al Jolson, W. C. Fields, Mae West, Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers, Jimmy Durante, Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, Edgar Bergen, Fanny Brice, and Eddie Cantor, used the prominence gained in live variety performance to vault into the new medium of cinema. (In so doing, such performers often exhausted in a few moments of screen time the novelty of an act that might have kept them on tour for several years.) Other performers who entered in vaudeville's later years, including Jack Benny, Kate Smith, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Judy Garland, Rose Marie, Sammy Davis, Jr., Red Skelton, Burns and Allen, and The Three Stooges, used vaudeville only as a launching pad for later careers. They left live performance before achieving the national celebrity of earlier vaudeville stars, and found fame in new venues.

By the late 1920s, almost no vaudeville bill failed to include a healthy selection of cinema. Earlier in the century, many vaudevillians, cognizant of the threat represented by cinema, held out hope that the silent nature of the "flickering shadow sweethearts" would preclude their usurpation of the paramount place in the public's affection. With the introduction of talking pictures in 1926, however, the burgeoning film studios removed what had remained, for many, the chief point in favor of live theatrical performance: spoken dialogue. Historian John Kenrick wrote: "Top vaudeville stars filmed their acts for one-time pay-offs, inadvertently helping to speed the death of vaudeville. After all, when "small time" theatres could offer "big time" performers on screen at a nickel a seat, who could ask audiences to pay higher amounts for less impressive live talent? The newly-formed RKO studios took over the famed Orpheum vaudeville circuit and swiftly turned it into a chain of fulltime movie theaters. The half-century tradition of vaudeville was effectively wiped out within less than four years."[7]

Inevitably, managers further trimmed costs by eliminating the last of the live performances. Vaudeville also suffered due to the rise of broadcast radio following the greater availability of inexpensive receiver sets later in the decade. Even the hardiest within the vaudeville industry realized the form was in decline; the perceptive understood the condition to be terminal. The standardized film distribution and talking pictures of the 1930s confirmed the end of vaudeville. By 1930, the vast majority of formerly live theatres had been wired for sound, and none of the major studios were producing silent pictures. For a time, the most luxurious theatres continued to offer live entertainment, but the majority of theatres were forced by the Great Depression to economize.

Some in the industry blamed cinema's drain of talent from the vaudeville circuits for the medium's demise. Others argued that vaudeville had allowed its performances to become too familiar to its famously loyal, now seemingly fickle audiences.

Though talk of its resurrection was heard throughout the 1930s and after, the demise of the supporting apparatus of the circuits and the inescapably higher cost of live performance made any large-scale renewal of vaudeville unrealistic.

Architecture

The most striking examples of Gilded Age theater architecture were commissioned by the big time vaudeville magnates and stood as monuments of their wealth and ambition. Examples of such architecture are the theaters built by impressario Alexander Pantages. Pantages often used architect B. Marcus Priteca (1881–1971), who in turn regularly worked with muralist Anthony Heinsbergen. Priteca devised an exotic, neo-classical style that his employer called "Pantages Greek".

Though classic vaudeville reached a zenith of capitalization and sophistication in urban areas dominated by national chains and commodious theatres, small-time vaudeville included countless more intimate and locally controlled houses. Small-time houses were often converted saloons, rough-hewn theatres or multi-purpose halls, together catering to a wide range of clientele. Many small towns had purpose-built theatres.

Post-vaudeville

Some of the most prominent vaudevillians continued the migration to cinema, though others found that the gifts that had so delighted live audiences did not translate well into different media. Some performers such as Bert Lahr fashioned careers out of combining live performance, radio and film roles. Many others later appeared in the Catskill resorts that constituted the "Borscht Belt". Many simply retired from performance and entered the workaday world of the middle class, the group that vaudeville, more than anything else, had helped to articulate and entertain.

Yet vaudeville, both in its methods and ruling aesthetic, influenced the succeeding media of film, radio and television. The screwball comedies of the 1930s, those reflections of the brief moment of cinematic equipoise between dialogue and physicality, reflect the more madcap comedic elements of some vaudeville acts (e.g., The Three Keatons). In form, the television variety show owed much to vaudeville. The multi-act format had renewed success in shows such as Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar and, The Ed Sullivan Show. Today, performers such as Bill Irwin, a MacArthur Fellow and Tony Award-winning actor, are frequently lauded as being "New Vaudevillians."[8][9]

References to vaudeville and the use of its distinctive argot continue throughout Western popular culture. Terms such as "a flop" (an act that does badly), for example, have entered the American idiom. Many of the most common performance techniques and "gags" of vaudeville entertainers are still seen on television and on film. Vaudeville, like its dime museum and variety theatre forebears, also continued and solidified a strong American absorption with foreign entertainers.

Archives

The American Vaudeville Museum, the world’s largest collection of vaudeville memorabilia, is located at the University of Arizona.[10]

The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres in Toronto houses the world's largest collection of vaudeville props and scenery.

See also

■            American burlesque

■            Blackface

■            Borscht Belt

■            Cabaret

■            Chautauqua

■            Concert Party (entertainment)

■            Concert saloon

■            For Me and My Gal (film)

■        Music hall

■            Vaudeville Bellydance

■            Medicine show

■            Minstrel show

■            Nightclub

■            Revue

■            Tab show

■            Tom Shows

■        Variety show

References

  1. ^ Trav S.D., No Applause-Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, 2005, Faber & Faber, ISBN 0571211925
  2. ^ "Vaudeville". Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
  3. ^ "Vaudeville", American Studies, University of Virginia, accessed 22 September 2009
  4. ^ Cullen, F. Hackman, D. McNeilly, "Vaudeville History," in Vaudeville, Old & New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America, xi-xxxii (London: Routledge, 2007).
  5. ^ Tosches, Nick (2002). Where Dead Voices Gather. Boston: Back Bay Books. p. 11. ISBN0316895377.
  6. ^ Senelick, Laurence (1993). Don B. Wilmeth and Tice Miller. ed. Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. Cambridge. p. 480. ISBN0-521-40134-8.
  7. ^ Kenrick, John. "History of Musical Film, 1927-30: Part II". Musicals101.com, 2004, accessed May 17, 2010
  8. ^ Henry III, William A. (1989-05-15). "Theater: Bowing Out with a Flourish". Time. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  9. ^ Thirteen / WNET New York is the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) affiliate station for the metropolitan New York area and one of the key program providers for PBS. Anu Krishnan, Peter Tierney, Diana Cofresi-Terrero, Leslie Kriesel, Ruiyan Xu, Brian Santalone. "Great Performances . Dialogue. Bill Irwin, Crown Prince. Bill Irwin". PBS. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
  10. ^ "Vaudeville Lives: The world’s largest Vaudeville memorabilia collection has been donated to the UA," UA News. February 25, 2009.

External links

Original source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaudeville

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of use for details.

Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Stage combat

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stage combat is a specialized technique in theatre designed to create the illusion of physical combat without causing harm to the performers. It is employed in live stage plays as well as operatic and ballet productions. The term is also used informally to describe fight choreography for other production media including film and television. It is a common field of study for actors and dancers and is closely related to the practice of stunts.

History

The history of staged fight and mock combat can be traced to antiquity, or indeed to the origins of the human species and primate display behaviour. Display of martial aptitude is a natural occurrence in warrior societies, and ritualized forms of mock combat often evolve into war dances. Fights staged for entertainment may also be in earnest for the combatants, as was the case with the Roman gladiators, and any public duel, such as the judicial duel of the European Middle Ages. Depiction of violence in theatre can also be traced to Antiquity, with Aristotle quoted as noting that "conflict is the essence of comedy".[citation needed]

The medieval tournament and joust are a classical examples of competitive ritualised mock combat. The joust from the time of Maximilian I developed into a sport with enormous cost involved for each knight and correspondingly high prestige attached, comparable to contemporary Formula One races, while at the same time minimizing the danger of injury with highly specialized equipment.

In the Late Middle Ages, staged fencing bouts, with or without choreography, became popular with fencing schools. Some German combat manuals have sections dedicated to flamboyant techniques to be employed in such Klopffechten ("knockabout fighting"), which would be impractical in serious combat, and the Late Medieval German masters distinguish mock fights (fechten zu schimpf) and real combat (fechten zu ernst).

In Asia, stylized stage combat has been a staple feature of traditional Japanese (Kabuki tachimawari), Chinese (Beijing Opera) and Indian performing arts for centuries. The history of European theatrical combat has its roots in medieval theatre, and becomes tangible in Elizabethan drama. It is speculated[citation needed] that Richard Tarleton, who was a member of both William Shakespeare's acting company and of the London Masters of Defence weapons guild, was among the first fight directors in the modern sense.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scenes of swordplay in touring theatrical productions throughout Europe, the British Commonwealth and the USA were typically created by combining several widely known, generic routines known as "standard combats". During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fencing masters in Europe began to research and experiment with historical fencing techniques, with weapons such as the two-handed sword, rapier and smallsword, and to instruct actors in their use. Notable amongst these were George Dubois, a Parisian fight director and martial artist who created performance fencing styles based on gladiatorial combat as well as Renaissance rapier and dagger fencing. Egerton Castle and Captain Alfred Hutton of London were also involved both in reviving antique fencing systems and in teaching these styles to actors.[1]

Cinematic fencing has its roots in the 1920s, with the movies of Douglas Fairbanks. Martial arts movies emerge as a distinct genre from the 1940s, popularized by Bruce Lee and Sonny Chiba from the 1960s.

Informal guilds of fight choreographers began to take shape in the 1970s with the establishment of The Society of British Fight Directors,1969 to 1996. More formal training was established with the formation of the Society of American Fight Directors in 1977. The British Academy Of Stage & Screen Combat (BASSC) and Fight Directors Canada in 1993, the Society of Australian Fight Directors Inc. in 1994, the New Zealand Stage Combat Society in 1995 and the British Academy of Dramatic Combat in 1996. In 1997, the first all-female stage combat theatre company since the 19th century was formed: Babes With Blades. As of 2005, East 15 Acting School, London, exclusively offers a B.A. (Hons) Degree in Acting & Stage Combat. Students also certify with the British Academy of Dramatic Combat and British Academy Of Stage & Screen Combat.

Techniques

Stage combat training includes unarmed combat skills such as illusory slaps, punches, kicks, throwing and holding techniques; theatrical adaptations of various forms of fencing such as rapier and dagger, smallsword and broadsword, as well as the use of other weapons, notably the quarterstaff and knives; and more specialized skills such as professional wrestling and different styles of martial arts. However, stage combat can include any form of choreographed violence and the options are limited only by safety concerns, and the ability of the participants involved. As a note, most of these techniques are drawn from actual fighting techniques, but modified to be safer for actors. For example, although there are a number of ways of creating the safe illusion of a slap to the face (which is obviously something that could really be done in combat), none of these involve making actual contact with the victim's face.

The over-riding concern is for the safety of the actors and audience. This requirement has led to the adaptation of many standard martial arts and fencing skills specifically for performance. For example, many basic sword attacks and parries must be modified to ensure that the actors do not bring the points of their weapons past their partner's face or otherwise inadvertently risk the other actor's health and well-being. Attacking actions in stage combat are extended past the performance partner's body, or aimed short of their apparent targets. Likewise, whereas their characters may be trying to violently twist each other's limbs, slap, or punch, or grapple, and engaging in vicious unarmed combat, the actors must operate at a high level of complicity and communication to ensure a safe, exciting fight scene. Considerable professional judgement is called upon to determine what technical level may be appropriate for a given performer, taking into account allotted rehearsal time, and the expectations of the director.

The combat phase of a play rehearsal is referred to as a fight rehearsal. Choreography is typically learned step by step, and practiced at first very slowly before increasing to a speed that is both dramatically convincing and safe for the performers and their audience. Even stage combat is risky, and it is preferable for actors to have as much training and experience as possible. A "fight call" or a brief rehearsal before the show is performed each time, set aside for the actors to "mark" through the fight to increase their muscle memory.

A show which involves fight choreography will typically be trained and supervised by a professional fight choreographer and may also include a fight captain, who runs fight calls and ensures that actors are remaining safe throughout the duration of the show.

Realism in fight choreography

Fight choreography can vary widely from true realism to outright fantasy depending upon the requirements of a particular production. One of the biggest reasons that theatrical fight directors often do not aim for strict realism is that the live audience could not easily follow the 'story' of the action if bodies and blades were moving in the ways trained fighters would move them. For example, a production of Cyrano de Bergerac (play), by Edmond Rostand, using 17th-Century rapiers, might show Cyrano making lots of circular cut attacks. But a more efficient, practical attack would be taking a quicker, more direct line to the opponent's body. But the fight director knows that the audience couldn't follow the action as well if the attacks were faster (the audience might hardly be able to see the thin blades whip through the air), so most fight choreographers would make choices to help the audience follow the story. Of course, this is dependent on the production, the director and other stylistic choices.

One school of fight choreographer thought says that an unusual aspect of live stage combat, such as in a play, is that audiences will react negatively to even simulated violence if they fear the actors are being harmed: for example, if an actor is really slapped in the face, the audience will stop thinking about the character and, instead, worry about the performer. Audiences may also fear for their own safety if large combat scenes seem to be out of control. Therefore, stage combat is not simply a safety technique but is also important for an audience to maintain uninterrupted suspension of disbelief.

Types of choreographed fights

In theatre

Having its roots in Medieval theatre, stage combat enters classical theatre choreography with Elizabethan drama (Shakespeare's simple and oft seen stage direction, they fight).

Classical plays with fight scenes:

On film

Main article: choreographed fight in cinema

Cinema inherited the concept of choreographed fights directly from the theatrical fight.

Douglas Fairbanks in 1920 was the first film director to ask a fencing master to assist the production of a fencing scene in cinema.[2] A second wave of swashbuckling films was triggered with Errol Flynn from 1935.

Renewed interest in swashbuckling films arose in the 1970s, in the wake of The Three Musketeers (1973). Directors at this stage aimed for a certain amount of historical accuracy, although, as the 2007 Encyclopædia Britannica puts it, "movie fencing remains a poor representation of actual fencing technique". The Star Wars films, the fights for which are choreographed by Bob Anderson & Peter Diamond (Episodes IV, V & VI) and Nick Gillard (Episodes I, II & III), tend to portray its lightsaber combat using swordsmanship techniques drawn from existing martial arts, but performed with fantasy weapons such as lightsabers or The Force, whereas the action featured in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy also choreographed by Bob Anderson employed fantasy weapons and fighting styles, designed by Tony Wolf.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Sonny Chiba, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, who are famous for both choreographing and acting in martial arts action films, were influential in the development of stage combat on film.

Hong Kong based fight choreographer Yuen Wo-ping is famed for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Matrix trilogy, in which the often unrealistic fighting techniques are complemented by directorial techniques such as bullet time. Ching Siu-tung is particularly noted in the field of Hong Kong action cinema for his use of graceful wire fu techniques. By contrast, films such as The Duellists, fight directed by William Hobbs, Once Were Warriors, fight directed by Robert Bruce and Troy, fight directed by Richard Ryan are widely famed for including gritty, realistic combat scenes.

With the possibilities of cutting and of filming outdoors, films have a much wider palette of possibilities to depict violence, including single combat, brawls and melees as well as full-blown battles.

Combat reenactment

Main articles: Combat reenactment and Historical martial arts reconstruction

Combat reenactment is a side of historical reenactment which aims to depict events of battle, normally a specific engagement in history, but also unscripted battles where the 'winner' is not predetermined.

References

  1. ^ Wolf, Tony. (2009) "A Terrific Combat!!! Theatrical Duels, Brawls and Battles, 1800-1920"[/]
  2. ^ 2007 Britannica, s.v. fencing.
  • William Hobbs, Fight Direction for Stage and Screen, Heinemann (1995), ISBN 978-0-435-08680-0.
  • Jenn Boughn, Stage Combat: Fisticuffs, Stunts, and Swordplay for Theater and Film, Allworth Press (2006), ISBN 1581154615.
  • Keith Ducklin and John Waller, A Manual for Actors and Directors, Applause Books (2001), ISBN 1557834598.
  • Dale Anthony Girard, Actors on Guard: A Practical Guide for the Use of the Rapier and Dagger for Stage and Screen, Theatre Arts Book (1996), ISBN 0878300570.
  • Michael Kirkland, Stage Combat Resource Materials: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography, Praeger Publishers (2006), ISBN 0313307105.
  • Richard Lane, Swashbuckling: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Art of Stage Combat and Theatrical Swordplay, Limelight Editions (2004), ISBN 0879100915.
  • Meron Langsner, 'Theatre Hoplology: Simulations and Representations of Violence on the Stage' in 'Text & Presentation 2006' edited by Stratos E. Constantinidis',McFarland (2007), ISBN 078643077X, 9780786430772.
  • D. Martinez, The Swords of Shakespeare: An Illustrated Guide to Stage Combat Choreography in the Plays of Shakespeare, McFarland & Company (1996), ISBN 0899509592.
  • Allen Suddeth, Fight Directing for the Theatre, Heinemann Drama (1996), ISBN 043508674X.
  • Richard Pallaziol, The Textbook of Theatrical Violence[1], Weapons of Choice (2009), woc-usa.net, ISBN 978-1-934703-82-3.

Video

  • Basic Stage Combat DVD, Educational Video Network (2004).
  • Traditioneller Schaukampf für Anfänger nach Dreynschlag, Agilitas TV (2007).

See also

Original source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stage_combat

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of use for details.
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Slapstick Comedy

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Slapstick is both a genre in its own right, belonging mostly to the years of silent cinema, and an element in other comedies that has persisted from the early years of film till now, when it seems to be as an indispensable element of the teen or "gross-out" comedy typified by such films as the American Pie trilogy (1999, 2001, 2003) and movies directed by the Farrelly Brothers, such as There's Something About Mary (1998) and Stuck on You (2003).

Slapstick is a descendent of the comic routines of Italian commedia dell'arte (mid-fifteenth to mid-seventeenth century) touring players, who developed basic plot scenarios and broad, swiftly drawn characters. The fun for their audiences was not in watching innovative narratives or well-developed characters but in seeing how a slick troupe of professionals could manipulate the standard components of farce—zany servants, pompous masters, young lovers—with speed and efficiency. Each commedia player performed and perfected a single stereotyped character, bringing his own personality to bear in the particulars of his comic business—the lazzi —or, as we might call it, the shtick.

Comedy in slapstick lies in the basic tension between control and its loss. Both the verbal outbursts of the wordier comics (the Marx Brothers [Chico (1887–1961), Harpo (1888–1964), Groucho (1890–1977), and Zeppo (1901–1979)], W. C. Fields [1880-1946]) and the physical eruptions of those who use extreme body comedy (Charlie Chaplin [1889-1977], Jerry Lewis [b. 1926]) are predicated on the delicate balance between resistance and inevitable surrender—indeed, the resistance serves to make the surrender even funnier. Slapstick's classic moment, the pie in the face, is funny only if the recipient is not already covered in pie but is first clean and neat; slipping on a banana skin provides humor only when the before —the dignified march—is contrasted with the after —the flat-out splayed pratfall on the sidewalk. Slapstick comedians learned early on that humor could be prolonged if resistance, whether to gravity or another inevitability, could also be prolonged—in other words, as long as there were a chance that the other shoe might fall. This balancing act is the slapstick comic's main job: paradoxically, when we watch him—and it is usually a him—performing lack of control, at least part of our pleasure derives from his skill at controlling this lack.

Jim Carrey might beat himself up mercilessly in Me, Myself, And Irene (2000), but even as he seems to abandon restraint while punching himself, we are aware of the physical control needed to perform this routine. Part of the humor in this tension is also derived from the comic hero's insistence on maintaining control when others around him have abandoned it. Chaplin's Tramp tries to maintain dignity even though poor, starving, drenched, and an outcast: the humor lies in his scrupulous adherence to social niceties (he holds his silverware nicely) even when society is in chaos (he is having to eat his own boot from starvation in The Gold Rush , 1925).

Source:

www.filmreference.com

Slapstick

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Slapstick is a type of comedy involving exaggerated violence and activities which may exceed the boundaries of common sense.[1][2][3

Slapstick films are a type of comedy film that employ slapstick comedy with five main conventions:

  1. Pain without real consequence.
  2. Editing to turn a situation more unrealistic.
  3. Impossible situations.
  4. Zooms to confuse the audience.
  5. Off screen use of sounds for impossible stunts and tension for audience.

Origins

The phrase comes from the batacchio or bataccio — called the 'slap stick' in English — a club-like object composed of two wooden slats used in Commedia dell'arte. When struck, the battacchio produces a loud smacking noise, though little force is transferred from the object to the person being struck. Actors may thus hit one another repeatedly with great audible effect while causing very little actual physical damage. Along with the inflatable bladder (of which the whoopee cushion is a modern variant), it was among the earliest special effects that a person could carry.

History

While the object from which the genre is derived dates from the Renaissance, theater historians argue that slapstick comedy has been at least somewhat present in almost all comedic genres since the rejuvenation of theater in church liturgical dramas in the Middle Ages.[citation needed] (Some argue[weasel words] for instances of it in Greek and Roman theater, as well.) Beating the devil off stage, for example, remained a stock comedic device in many otherwise serious religious plays. Shakespeare also incorporated many chase scenes and beatings into his comedies, such as in his play The Comedy of Errors. Building on its later popularity in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century ethnic routines of the American vaudeville house, the style was explored extensively during the "golden era" of black and white, silent movies directed by figures Mack Sennett and Hal Roach and featuring such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Keystone Kops, the Three Stooges and El Chavo. Slapstick is also common in animated cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes. Silent slapstick comedy was also popular in early French films and included films by Max Linder and Charles Prince.

Slapstick continues to maintain a presence in modern comedy that draws upon its lineage, running in film from Buster Keaton and Louis de Funès to Mel Brooks to the Jackass movies to the Farrelly Brothers, and in live performance from Weber & Fields to Jackie Gleason to Rowan Atkinson.

References

  1. ^ http://www.thefreedictionary.com/slapstick
  2. ^ http://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Romantic-Comedy-Yugoslavia/Slapstick-Comedy.html
  3. ^ http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Slapstick+comedy

External links

Original source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slapstick

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