The Work of Living Art: A Theory of the Theatre

By Adolphe Appia; Barnard Hewitt et al. | Go to book overview

DESIGNS

These few sketches are not, properly speaking, illustrations of the preceding pages. The reform of the mise en scène must be accompanied by a new conception of dramatic art: an art so closely related to our personal and our social life that it is impossible to discuss it without upsetting many conceptions and habits which seemed almost immutable, or at least, too deeply rooted to be changed all at once. A drama on the stage, from whatever angle one looks at it, is a reproduction of a fragment of our life. By this I do not mean that it is a mirror of our manners, as we have been wont to say it is. Our inner life, its joys, its pains, and its conflicts, is entirely independent of our manners, even when these manners seem to be determining factors. The human passions are eternal--eternally the same; manners merely color them superficially, just as the form of a costume indicates an epoch. But the soul hidden beneath the costume is timeless; it is simply the human soul. From the dramatic point of view, a fragment of our existence is a fragment of the story of that soul. Consequently, the form we give to our productions either fits this definition and need not be changed; or, on the contrary, it is based on inertia or conservatism, and therefore is anachronistic. The question has two sides: one artistic, the other purely human and social, since the theatre is a joy we share with others. Here I must be permitted to make some remarks which, while explaining these sketches, will also clarify the work which has preceded them.

The artistic side of the question is concerned with the technical means we use in the theatre, and with our manner of employing them. Thus we can readily see that in dramatic art technique is dependent on our conception of the art itself. Theo-

-83-

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The Work of Living Art: A Theory of the Theatre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books of the Theatre Series iii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Adolphe Appia and "The Work of Living Art" xi
  • Preface 1
  • 1. the Elements 3
  • 2. Living Time 19
  • 3. Living Space 25
  • 4. Living Color 31
  • 5. Organic Unity 38
  • 6. Collaboration 59
  • 7. the Great Unknown and the Experience of Beauty 68
  • 8. Bearers of the Flame 79
  • Designs 83
  • Adolphe Appia's "Man is the Measure of All Things" (protagoras) 123
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