Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello, Act One, Scene One, I played the Leading Actor and we focused on Contexts

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Unit 1 – Exploration of Drama & Theatre AS        


First Performance: ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ by Luigi Pirandello, Act One, Scene One, I played the ‘Leading Actor’ and we focused on Contexts – Social, Cultural, Historical and Political – Practitioner


First Produced in Rome in 1921, the play’s setting is within a theatre while a rehearsal of ‘The Rules of the Game’ is taking place. The action unfolds in anytown, anytime, outside history. Act One begins with the curtain already up and the theatre in disorder; normal for a working session behind the scenes. It was convention in the 1920’s that the curtain is down, thus defining the fourth wall: society was therefore confronted by something alien. I and the Other Actors therefore decided to take the concept of this idea and break all divisions between us and the audience by entering the stage through the audience: something that society didn’t accept in theatre at the time. To further alienate the audience dialogue had all ready started between the actors offstage, and resulted in the audience being thrown into a confusing situation where the story had already begun without them: crossing the lines between art, which is unchanging, and life, which is an inconstant flux. The gentry and Ladies would go to proclaim Pirandello a ‘madman’ and his play a ‘madhouse.’ A view reflected in international politics with the banning of the play by the UK government in 1928.


Pirandello’s intention for the play was to blur the lines between the reality of life and the illusion of theatre. Achieved by having a play within a play – the audience is forced to withdraw themselves emotionally from the scene and realise what they are actually witnessing is a fictional story: not therefore trying to convince themselves otherwise. Our scene begins, not with the rehearsal, but, with the Stage-hand nailing pieces of wood together on stage: before then being told to leave the performance space by the Stage Manager in anticipation of the advent of the Producer being “here in a moment to rehearse.” The audience would consequently understand that, with the entrance of me, the Other Actors and then shortly after the Producer, what they saw before hand was not per se a performance; but instead an illusion of one.  

Fourth Performance: ‘Miss Julie’ by august Strindberg, Scene 1. I played ‘Jean’ and we focused on contexts – Social, Cultural, Historical and Political – and Practitioner


Written in 1888 and first produced in Denmark in 1889, the play’s setting is within the kitchen of a count’s Swedish County Manor. It is Midsummer Eve (M.E): within the period of 1874. The history and background of M.E, and the celebrations associated with it, took its modern form with the advent of Christianity – expanding out to include the celebration of the birth of St. John the Baptist. Revellers dance around a M.E pole; which represents fertility. In this sense, it also has connotations of Miss Julie’s (Julie) youthfulness and thus inexperience. Young women wear flower garlands – hoping to catch a dream of their future husband. Jean plays around with this idea and the mythical associations around M.E. He asks Julie and Christine, ‘Is this some magic brew you ladies are preparing on Midsummer Eve, which will reveal the future and show whom fate has in store for you.’ With hindsight it seems Jean is foreseeing the situation the pair will find themselves in – leading to them ultimately having sex. I therefore decided to communicate this line respectfully, as Jean must stay aware of his social status as a servant and hers as a member of the aristocracy, but with an air of flirtatious menace; as Julie knows she is not what ‘one would call a lady.’ Jean therefore feels he can cross the line and do something socially unacceptable. This links into his desire to ‘climb and climb’ to the top and Julie’s desire ‘to fall’ ‘down to the ground.’ This creates a social issue between them. Julie attempts to use her higher social status to keep Jean in check – he has none of this and the characters begin a transformation of roles. Jean dreams of being a Romanian Count and Julie wishes to become a commoner. The presence of the Count’s boots, and the (legitimate) authority associated with them, is the only thing that can keep Jeans growing (illegitimate) power in check. He brings them on at the start of the scene placing them downstage so that he may keep an eye on them. Jean therefore knows that a night of Liberties does not mean a life of Liberty.         

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When playing Jean I couldn’t be emotionally connected with him, so instead I opted for the “magic if.” This, I decided, should be incorporated into circles of attention. Jean’s core objective is to have sex with Julie; his lesser objectives depend on given circumstances and will be more short term. With this mind, when Jean enters the stage I wanted each action to have a point, so that it was realistic, and therefore in line with Strindberg’s naturalistic views at the time. For example, when Jean first enters, his sole attention is on the Count’s boots in complete disregard ...

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