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Six Characters in Search of an Author (NHB Drama Classics) [Paperback]

Luigi Pirandello , Stephen Mulrine
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 4.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 Nov 2002 Drama Classics
Number fifty nine in NHB's Drama Classics Series, providing the world's great drama at a great price.

The introduction to this edition of Six Characters In Search Of An Author includes a short biography of Luigi Pirandello and chronology of his work; a guide to what happens in the play; a short history of the play in performance and its context; and a brief guide to characterisation, language and themes.

Pirandello's play is about the nature of theatre and the problems of theatricality. When six characters, whose author has abandoned them mid-process, turn up at a rehearsal and demand to be played by the actors present an absurd drama ensues in which the characters attempt to resolve their tragedy and become 'real'.

Pirandello's classic of twentieth century theatre is introduced and presented here in a brilliant new translation by Stephen Mulrine.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Nick Hern Books; New edition edition (1 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854590898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854590893
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 10.5 x 16.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author is one of the great works of 20th-century modernism, as significant in its way as the discovery of cubism in art and the development of jazz and serialism in music. --Telegraph

About the Author

Luigi Pirandello was an Italian dramatist, novelist, and short story writer awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1934, for his bold and brilliant renovation of the drama and the stage. Pirandello's works include novels, hundreds of short stories, and about 40 plays, some of which are written in Sicilian. Pirandello's tragic farces are often seen as forerunners for Theatre of the Absurd.

Stephen Mulrine was a Senior Lecturer, Historical & Critical Studies, Glasgow School of Art; an Extra Mural Tutor, Creative Writing, Glasgow University; and he is a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama. Following a prolific second career writing original plays for radio and television, Stephen began translating plays, mainly from Russian, in the late 1980s. Published and produced work ranges from the great 19th Century classics Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Chekhov, etc to contemporary drama by Gelman and Petrushevskaya. Now retired from academic life, Stephen's translations, published mainly by Nick Hern Books include versions of Ibsen, Molière, Pirandello, Strindberg, Beaumarchais and others.

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What if? 31 Dec 2005
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Luigi Pirandello kicked theatre convention out the door with "Six Characters in Search of an Author." Illusion and reality get a bit bent out of shape, as fictional characters stroll about and converse with managers and actors. It's a brilliant piece of existentialist work, and one that had a distinct effect on theatre after that.

It opens with several unnamed theatre people -- the Manager, the Leading Man, the Prompter -- rehearsing a play in an empty theatre. "During this manoeuvre, the Six CHARACTERS enter, and stop by the door at back of stage," Pirandello tells us: a florid Father, timid Mother, equally timid Boy, arrogant Son, sexy Step-Daughter and too-young-to-have-much-personality Child.

"As a matter of fact . . . we have come here in search of an author . . ." the Father tells the manager. The characters have been abandoned by their author, who "no longer wished, or was no longer able" to put them into a story. And now they want the theatre company to provide them with a vehicle that will make them immortal -- and they have to convince the Manager that they are worthy.

Pirandello dispels the unreality of the play with "Oh sir, you know well that life is full of infinite absurdities, which, strangely enough, do not even need to appear plausible, since they are true." While the events of this play seems to be sort of gimmicky, Pirandello uses them with unusual grace (and not a few moments of bizarre comedy).

The characterizations are among the weirdest I've ever seen -- we have an entire family drama going on without a play/novel/film for it. Lovers, illegitimate kids, sibling rivalry and marital fights. Ironically, the Character family overshadows the "real" people on the stage.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good 7 April 2014
By Amy_94
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The introduction / Publisher's notes are very helpful in contextualisation and for the author's background. I'd recommend this edition to anyone intending to study the play.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Post-modernism in the 21st Century 2 April 2011
By Patrick Neylan VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Luigi Pirandello's 1921 masterpiece was a pioneering piece of post-modernist theatre (which Webster's dictionary defines as, among other things, "typically characterized by ... ironic self-reference and absurdity"). It is beloved of drama schools, but as a piece of entertainment it's getting a bit dated now. This new (2007) version, by Ben Power and Rupert Goold (who directed the Stalinist Macbeth shown on BBC last year) brings the play right up to date, including topical issues that Pirandello never dreamt of.

In this version, the play rehearsal of the original is replaced by a team of film-makers creating a documentary about assisted suicide. From a staging point of view, this means that screens are required on stage to display pre-recorded content. For an amateur drama society, that makes it very challenging in terms of staging, not to mention the difficult content (when I directed it last month, we had half a dozen people walk out and one serious letter of complaint, while others said it was the best thing they had ever seen. Alan Ayckbourn it isn't).

I can't imagine an amateur society performing this play in its entirety without changes. My version omitted the suicide of the boy (try persuading a parent to let their 10-year old commit suicide on stage using a hypodermic needle), while the sex scene between the Father and the Stepdaughter is a very difficult thing to stage tastefully. The discussion between the Theatre-Makers and the Exec also has to be made specific to your actual production.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both Confusing and Incredible! 12 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback
The only two reviews for this product at the moment are for Luigi Pirandello's original text of Six Characters in Search of an Author, this is not the same play!
It is based on Six Characters, yet is re-written to bring them into the modern world as six half-formed stereotypes, many of whom cannot even speak because their parts have not been fully defined, yet they still feel the need to re-enact their story again and again, ultimately leading the Producer of their farce to question her own existence.
I saw this play performed by Headlong Theaters and I have to say I was thrilled. At first the play was dull, then comic as the Six Characters first arrived then suddenly surreal, shocking and dark as their tale unfolds. It was a brilliant performance and if given the chance I highly recommend you see it.
This text would be perfect for professional companies and amatuers alike as the script does not rely heavily on scenery and props.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 23 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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