How Plays Work: Reading and Performance by Martin Meisel

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By Martin Meisel

Why are readers who're in general at domestic with narrative and discursive prose, or even without difficulty conscious of poetry, some distance much less convinced and intuitive by way of performs? The worry lies within the twofold personality of the play because it exists at the web page - as a script or ranking to be learned, and as literature. Martin Meisel's attractive account of ways we learn play performs at the web page indicates that the trail to the fullest creative reaction is an knowing of ways performs paintings. what's entailed is anything like studying a language - vocabulary, grammar, syntax - yet studying additionally how the language operates in these concrete occasions the place it's deployed. Meisel starts with a glance at issues frequently taken without any consideration in coding and conference, after which - less than 'Beginnings' - at what's entailed in setting up and getting into the invented global of the play. every one succeeding bankruptcy is a gesture at enlarging the scope: 'Seeing and Hearing', 'The makes use of of Place', 'The function of the Audience', 'The form of the Action', and 'The motion of Words'. the ultimate chapters, 'Reading Meanings' and 'Primal Attractions', discover ways that either the force for major realizing and the urge for food for ask yourself can and do locate pride and pleasure. Cultivated in tone and jargon-free, How performs paintings is illuminated by way of dozens of judiciously selected examples from western drama - from classical Greek dramatists to modern playwrights, either canonical and comparatively imprecise. it's going to charm as a lot to the intense scholar of the theatre as to the playgoer who loves to learn a play earlier than seeing it played.

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Extra resources for How Plays Work: Reading and Performance

Sample text

In the play, the character who frankly identifies himself as the author’s spokesman, the raisonneur, describes ‘the official theater, the actual theater, as a sort of laboratory of illusion’. But life at large—for actors who recognize their calling as ‘masters of the art of salvation through illusion’—he pitches as a theatre without encumbrances: ‘no sets, no curtain, no footlights, and not a trace of a prompter’ (p. 66). Dr Fregoli preaches his gospel of all the world’s a theatre in a play world that is on the whole familiar, as ordinary, even tawdry provincial life, prosaic and limited, depicted within the bounds of mimetic realism.

You are sharing no experience. . You don’t have to imagine anything. . You don’t need to know that this is a stage. You need no expectations. . What is the theater’s is not rendered unto the theater here. . No spark will leap across from us to you. . These boards don’t signify a world. They are part of the world. These boards exist for us to stand on. This world is no different from yours. . You are the subject matter. The focus is on you. . The emptiness of this stage is no picture of another emptiness.

Time and space do not exist; on a slight groundwork of reality, imagination spins and weaves new patterns made up of memories, experiences, unfettered fancies, absurdities and improvisations. The characters are split, double and multiply; they evaporate, crystallise, scatter and converge. ²⁵ In the play, the scenography is fluid and transformational. The elements that constitute the alley and doorkeeper’s lodge outside a theatre, for example, change before our eyes to the makings of a lawyer’s office, and then to those of a church interior.

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