Here in this essay, I would like to turn to the evolution of theater from Greek to postmodernism.
Greek drama revolved around kings and Queens and nobility. The roots of tragedy have their pinnacles in Greece. It is from there we have come to understand Aristotelian concept of catharsis, which means an emotional cleansing while watching tragedy. Famous is Oedipus Rex and in it we find Rex marrying his mother and murdering his father. For the Greeks, it meant a spectacle for pure entertainment. It is pertinent to ask whether Greek plays have probed the deeper questions of humanity. They do and they have done. Rich has been the culture bequeathing the props making drama an entertainment. The Greek play had belief in Gods and Goddesses and the supernatural. It was based on various festivals. The corybantic dancers danced in frenzy showing of their Epicurean credentials. The acts showed a gestation of Jungian archetypes. Great is the legacy and culture of Greece.
Next I would like to proceed to Elizabethan stage. Shakespeare was its greatest exponent and he was the master of both tragedy and comedy. Elizabethan plays also revolved around nobility, aristocracy and kings and queens. They carried on courtly intrigues and courtly love. Was it the symbolism of monarch going decadent? Let’s recall the play Julius Caesar. The murder of Julius Caesar showed the symbolism of a monarchic war. Brutus is a specimen of a valiant anti-hero. The murder is justified on grounds of insolvency of the regime of Caesar. Mark Antony is the hero of the play and he silences all of his detractors by his remarkable, eloquent speech. The Tempest shows the development of an artist—the kunstlerroman. The tempest also highlights the dawn of desire for colonialism.
Here I would like to trace the development of theater to modern and postmodernism. There are various trends like existentialism and Marxism. I would like to take an example from Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller. The death of Salesman is a strident criticism on the pitfalls of growing capitalism Willy is a classic example of itinerant salesman caught up with the vision of the great American Dream. Willy is an archetype of the fool, a delusional character. His wife Linda is more practical and efficient and she is an example of a typical American Middle Class Woman. She is an archetype of a mother Goddess. The dream of Bill to capitalize on the Great American dreams comes to rotten eggs and he commits suicide in the end. From and Marxian point of view, life of man in the theater of the absurd is one of irony, pessimism and angst. The working classes have no place in society. They are belittled and down-graded. Psychoanalytically speaking Bill’s ego is a wounded one with the horrors and vanity of pursuing an idol dream. We can further use Lacan’s Mirror Stage and when using it we look at a character is demented and living in a fictional world.