Date: 01 12 2015
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Henry Becque
(Lille, France, April 9, 1837 -Paris, France, May 1899)

Henry Becque
Henry Becque
Henry Becque (full name Henri Francois Becque), a French playwright, was the first representative of Realism and Naturalism in France who introduced le comédie rosse (bitter comedy) in French theatre. He was a very controversial author who dared to present the French public with taboo topics of the time in a genre that they did not want to see in the theatre. Regardless of his fame in Italy, because of this he never enjoyed popularity at home. Today, however, his importance for the development of the theatrical arts in France is indisputable. His innovative approach to playwriting lies in themes and structures alike. He insisted that all aspects of real life should be transferred to the stage and definitely shock and even offend the audience by the choice of themes and characters. Beside the common naturalistic topics such as alienation, lower-class citizens' struggle for existence and disillusioned young men, he attacked the most respected and the highest institution. Injustice and fraud inside the conservative, parochial and bureaucratic system, wickedness of the female members of old, well-respected high-class families, even legalization of divorce and women's right on education and high ranked jobs were themes he openly explored. Through his concept of a "cruel theatre," exposing the naked truth to the point of brutality, he accused society for being prejudicial, immoral and hypocritical.

Becque challenged everything in the theatre, from writing to structure and performance. His characters and motivation-based plays were loosely structured: he based the plays on characters and their motives ignoring well-developed plots, he refused to have happy-endings, insisted that acting should be life-like, and even claimed that it was possible to write a drama in five acts, when everybody knew that four must be the limit.
In 1886, Becque was awarded the Legion of Honour.

Major works:
Sardanapale, 1867
L'Enfant Prodigue (The Prodigal Son), 1968
Michel Pauper, 1970
L'Enlivement (The Abduction), 1871
La Navette (The Merry-Go-Round), 1878
Les Honntes Femmes, 1880
Les Corbeaux (The Vultures ), 1882
La Parisienne (The Woman of Paris), 1885
Querelles littiraires, 1890
Souvenirs dun auteur dramatique, 1895
Theatre complet, 1899
Les Polichinelles, unfinished


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