Realism has become the dominant theatre form in western culture. This obsession to present real life on stage has reached an extreme with the introduction and huge popularity of reality television.
Realism has reached plague proportions in the western world over the last few years, with the explosion of television shows such as "Home and Away" and "Neighbours" and more recently with the "Big Brother" phenomena where Realism TV is taken to new lows. These shows and many more are a form of drama that involves real life scenarios. When this form of drama first became popular, it sparked a craze because its audience believed it to be new and exciting. Audiences could not get enough of the so called real life drama; this type of drama shows us cameos of people's lives often in the mundane suburban setting.
Audiences could relate to the characters and the situations they find themselves in, ironically the way that many people relate to these real life dramas is in itself a kind of Surrealism with the audience getting caught up in the lives and tribulations of fictional characters. I am sure many of you have experienced friends rushing home to catch the next instalment of what Sara is going to say to the cheating Robert or discussing why Lucy lost her baby over lunch. Surrealism comes from the French word sur meaning "on or above." Therefore Surrealism translates to 'above reality or a heightened reality'. Where realists try to create the most realistic scenario possible, surrealists aim to create a sense of being "over-the-top." Surrealists also attempt to dissect reality, and were interested in the illogical association of ideas. For example, they tried to make people look at things in a new way, and they want to undercut expectations. Simultaneity is also important to the surrealistic way of thinking.
Through out their plays different things happened at once for example; two different scenes could occur on stage at the same time and things are continually changing. Dreams are an important part of Surrealism with many of the plays having dream like qualities such as opposite ideas justapositioned against one another or illogical conclusions being drawn. A Surreal play can be characterised by its representation of some of the following features: o Larger than life imagery o Grotesque or violent encounters o In your face visual images o Puppets, native rituals (such as Punch and Judy) o The use of language to achieve an end o The destruction of language o Concerned with dreams Surrealism tries to explode life or make it bigger o It seeks to Stimulates us while discovering the most profound psychological 'truths' o Surrealist play-writes attempts to unearth the 'truth' o They Attempt to liberate humanity from civilisation and all its rationalism's. o Also Surrealism explores the outer reaches of sanity (it's primarily interested in the insane).
o Surrealists ask, just how 'realistic' can Realism hope to be in the first place? Lets face it Realism is just plain boring, we deal with it every day. If Realism T. V shows were really true to life they would have hours and hour of nothing much happening, Kids doing homework, Mum doing the washing. Realism attempts to portray the everyday in an interesting way.
Surrealism on the other hand attempts to understand and dissect the everyday by looking at the bizarre or exploring the meaning behind the surface. For example in Louis Now era Surrealistic play 'Cosi' we are challenged to look behind the surface of sanity verses insanity and ask just how to tell the difference or indeed if there are any differences or if being human means there are just different degrees of insanity in all of us. Fundamentally Surrealism can help us to understand our everyday Realism by challenging our beliefs, taking our intellect to different heights, assaulting our senses in other worlds moving us beyond the square, whereas Realism is safe, unchallenging, unchanging, it is comfortable because we do not have to think about it we can just except it in a kind of inertia.