A Spectator’s Role
Chapter One: Introduction: The Spectator and the Dramatists
← xiv | 1 → CHAPTER ONE
Introduction: The Spectator and the Dramatists
Recently I talked to a committed theatre-goer who told me that she had seen a widely-praised performance of a play by a leading modern dramatist which had made a profound effect on her: she was miserable for weeks afterwards. Apparently this was just the effect intended by the playwright, the director and actors, and endorsed by the reviewers. Looking at almost any review of a modern production of a Shakespearean tragedy the preferred outcome of most of those involved seems similar. At a production of King Lear by the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival a few years ago, the stage manager began the evening with the traditional list of prescriptions about cell-phones, taping and photography, ending with the rueful observation: “Well, I won’t wish you a happy evening tonight, because, after all, you are going to see King Lear!” It seems very strange to think of anyone deliberately spending considerable sums of money to be made miserable: at such prices one expects to emerge from a tragic performance exhilarated, more aware, better able to cope with the challenges of life—something along the lines of the expectations about poetry of the ancient Roman Horace: “dulce et utile” (which I will update as “delightful and instructive”). If a play-wright has a craft, like a wheel-wright or a ship-wright, it is to entertain, excite, even inspire a spectator, so that the first concern is to hold the viewer’s attention, and...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.