Prose Plays

Prose Plays

Prose Plays

Prose Plays

Excerpt

I have been asked to write a few words as a preface to these volumes of plays. To a story teller, interested in all ways of the telling of tales, a play is nothing but a story in its simplest form. It is simply the clash of human will with other human will or with fate. It is certain always to attract a story teller, because it demands a passionate fable and characters in clash. To practise the intense condensation necessary in dramatic writing, to reduce a fable to its simplest terms and keep it simple and poignant for an hour or two hours, is helpful exercise to any story teller.

So in these plays my interest has been that of a craftsman working for a greater simplicity. In my earliest plays I took fables still in popular memory in countrysides well known to me. Having written these, I took a subject which had profound consequences in history, thinking that no matter how lamentably I failed at the task, I should at least grow by striving to do the difficult. In the next play I took one of the great stories of the world and endeavoured to present it simply and poignantly, so that it might mean as much to us as to those among whom the events took place two hundred years ago. In later plays I have tried to attain compression in the conduct of the action with external decorations of lyrical or narrative verse, to be spoken or sung. It must always be helpful to a writer in a century of books when work is read, to work for a time at things designed to appear in living forms and to be spoken with the voices of men an women directly to audiences.

JOHN MASEFIELD.

Oxford, 1925 . . .

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