Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Theatre and Evolution from Ibsen to Beckett$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Kirsten Shepherd-Barr

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164702

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164702.001.0001

Show Summary Details

Confronting the Serious Side

Confronting the Serious Side

(p.38) 2 Confronting the Serious Side
Theatre and Evolution from Ibsen to Beckett

Kirsten Shepherd-Barr

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines serious attempts to incorporate evolution thematically into plays during the nineteenth century, many of which hinge on the relationship between people and their environments. Downing Cless has argued that by the mid-Victorian period, with the development of domestic drama, settings move indoors: “Nature does not disappear...but it is distanced—what's outside the window or what's down the stream.” However, there are significant exceptions to this claim. Henrik Ibsen's plays do feature people talking intensely in rooms, but they also emphasize and indeed rely on their natural settings. These environments directly shape the action; they are not just “down the stream.” One of the playwrights who exemplifies this emphasis on environment is James A. Herne, who, influenced by Ibsen, brought nature even more directly on stage. This chapter also considers the ways in which extinction plays out on stage in the nineteenth century and how Charles Darwin's ideas inspired the newly physical emphasis in acting.

Keywords:   evolution, plays, environment, Charles Darwin, drama, Henrik Ibsen, James A. Herne, nature, extinction, acting

Columbia Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .