Experimental theatre

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A term that has been applied to theatre venues and companies in order to tap into the notion of theatre as a scientific and exploratory process, and the notion of improvisational processes which rose in the late 19th and 20th centuries and became prominent in the avant garde theatre of the 1950 –1970 period in Europe and the USA. The concept is broad and widely adapted, but generally seems to refer to a process by which a theatrical event or performance is created by experimentation with concepts and forms, in rehearsal and/or where the content of the work is challenging and provocative. Especially influential in the beginning were the experimental new companies of the realists and naturalist directors (the Count of Saxe-Meiningen , Antoine, Stanislavsky, et al), but in the 20th century there are many who went this route both theoretically (Craig, Artaud) and practically (Meyerhold, Brecht, Littlewood, Brook, Schechner, the Becks, Grotowsky et al). **** In South Africa the concept really had its first impact at the end of the 1950’s with the National Theatre Orrganization’s **** Theatre in Pretoria. But its real heyday was the period of struggle theatre (1970-1990). For more see Part Two, Section 1 and the titles of venues and companies (“The Market Laboratory”) Related to Workshop and Laboratory. See the writings of Robert Kavanagh, Mark Fleischman, [**Give list}***


See also Agit-prop, Alternative theatre, Laboratory theatre, Workshop theatre



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