The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays

The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays

Read FREE!

The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays

The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The elder Dumas, who wrote many successful plays, as well as the famous romances, said that all he needed for constructing a drama was "four boards, two actors, and a passion." What he meant by passion has been defined by a later French writer, Ferdinand Brunetière, as a conflict of wills.The Philosopher of Butterbiggens, whom you will meet early in this book, points out that "what you are all the time wanting" is "your own way." When two strong desires conflict and we wonder which is coming out ahead, we say that the situation is dramatic.This clash is clearly defined in any effective play, from the crude melodrama in which the forces are hero and villain with pistols, to such subtle conflicts, based on a man's misunderstanding of even his own motives and purposes, as in Mr.Middleton's "Tides."

In comedy, and even in farce, struggle is clearly present. Here our sympathy is with people who engage in a not impossible combat — against rather obvious villains who can be unmasked, or against such public opinion or popular conventions as can be overset. The hold of an absurd bit of gossip upon stupid people is firm enough in "Spreading the News"; but fortunately it must yield to facts at last.The Queen and the Knave of Hearts are sufficiently clever, with the aid of the superb cookery of the Knave's wife, to do away with an ancient and solemnly reverenced law of Pompdebile's court.So, too, the force of ancient loyalty and enthusiasm almost works a miracle in the invalid veteran of "Gettysburg." And we feel sure that the uncanny powers of the Beggar will be no less successful in overturning the power of the King in Mr.Parkhurst's play.

Again, in comedies as in mathematics, the problem is often solved by substitution. The soldier in Mr.Galsworthy's "The Sun" is able to find a satisfactory and apparently happy ending without achieving what he originally set out to gain.And the same is true of Jock in Mr.Brighouse's "Lonesome-Like." Or the play which does not end as the chief character wishes may still . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.