The Craft of Comedy

By Athene Seyler; Stephen Haggard | Go to book overview

(and last) night I am ashamed to say that I was at a loss to help him. If I had allowed myself to criticize him my criticism would have been destructive only. I have not the technical knowledge, nor the experience of playing comedy which would have enabled me to offer him something constructive in the way of help. I therefore said very little, until I realized that his true desire was not so much to improve Anatol for one performance as to learn about comedy--all sorts of comedy--because he wants to leave his bank and go on to the stage.

My friend seemed so much in earnest about his intention that I have been wondering whether you could possibly spare the time to write a few letters on the subject of comedy for his benefit. Speaking more selfishly, I am conscious of my own weakness in playing comedy and I hope I may find out something of the principles which underlie it before handing on your letters to my friend, whose name, by the way, is an appropriate one for a pupil, namely William Eager.

I remember your saying once that comedy is "distorted truth." Straightforward truth I think I can recognize--in the theatre at any rate. But how to distort it for comedic purposes--as to that I have only a rather hazy idea. William, I suspect, has none at all. So won't you please help my eager friend to settle the problems which perplex him? I shall look forward to learning a good deal "on the side."

Yours ever,

STEPHEN.

-8-

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The Craft of Comedy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Note *
  • Introduction to The Second Edition 1
  • Correspondence Between Athene Seyler And Stephen Haggard 7
  • The Wedding Morning 23
  • Love for Love 82
  • Fans, Trains and Stays 105
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