Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, is a unique and passionate play in which the dynamics of the theater are uprooted, deconstructed, and questioned for their validity and integrity. In Pirandello’s play, we experience the art of “metatheater.” Pirandello utilizes this technique to demonstrate the disadvantages of theatrical editing, enlighten his audience with self-reflecting philosophical questions, and acknowledge the timelessness of art.
To begin with, the Characters express their frustration with Producer when he begins to rewrite and change their stories to suit the theater’s requirements. Pirandello centers on this subject in Act II of the play. It begins with Producer addressing Prompter, “…try to get the lines down…at least the most important ones”(Pirandello 1268). Pirandello is showing the difficulty producers and directors have in adhering to the original script during artistic translation. Producer’s method disheartens Father and they have the following argument:
PRODUCER. You’ll need to give her a new name.
PRODUCER. But that’s the real name of your wife, isn’t it? We can’t use her real name.
FATHER. I am already starting to…how can I explain it…to sound false, my own
words sound like someone else’s. (Pirandello 1268-69)
They continue to argue.
FATHER. Don’t we even have our own meaning?
PRODUCER. Not a bit of it! Whatever your meaning is only material here…
To a large extent, the transfer of art from paper to stage is at the mercy of the actors, director and producer. Their judgment will determine what is left out and how authentic the interpretation will be for the audience. Pirandello’s Producer argues that his Actors will give form, voice, and expression to the Characters stories and in Producer’s eyes; this is better (Pirandello 1269). However, Father argues that the Actor portraying him could only ever be an interpretation of him, and Father feels it is unfair that the audience and critics will be judging the Character’s lives in an altered form (Pirandello 1270). It is clear that the Characters creation will not allow them to understand the concept of theater. In hindsight of the Character’s dismay, the critical reader may wish to argue that the audience is witnessing Pirandello’s own frustration. Why is the alteration of someone’s art acceptable?
The audience witnesses that Pirandello’s Characters have tremendous difficulty understanding that in the theater, ideas, scenery, and even the dynamics of speech, may be delivered differently from their realities. Stepdaughter is the most resilient to the idea of not allowing her entire truth to be showcased. Producer, in a frustrated tone attempts to sympathize with Stepdaughter and Father when he pleads:
FATHER. Everything needs to be balanced and in harmony so that we can show what
has to be shown! I know perfectly well that we’ve all got a life inside us….
But that’s the difficulty, how...