Preface to Drama: An Introduction to Dramatic Literature and Theater Art

By Charles W. Cooper | Go to book overview

IV. THE PLAY
Re-creation by Spectator or Reader

True enjoyment of the theatre . . . comes to playgoers who are active, not passive; whose eyes and ears are open, not shut; who are curious not only about the thing done but also about the manner of its doing; who can be susceptible to subject matter at the same time they are alert to treatment . . . who, even while they are surrendering to the illusion of the stage, do not forget the theatre is make-believe raised to the point of art. . . .

-- JOHN MASON BROWN, The Art of Playgoing

THE PLAY THAT REALLY COUNTS is neither the playbook nor the stageplay but the play in the mind of the spectator or reader. This is the play in its ultimate synthesis.

We have used the term "a play" in the preceding three essays as a loose synonym for a playscript, playbook, stageplay, or drama, and it is widely so used. The word is as ambiguous as "drama" itself. There are books on writing plays, on designing plays, on directing plays, on producing plays--there are also anthologies of plays.

Let us now, however, specialize our use of the term "a play" in this fourth essay to mean the story (sixfold in its scene, characters, action, plot, dialogue, and theme) as it is realized in the mind. The play, then, in this special sense exists first in the mind of the playwright. A slightly different play comes to life in the minds of the director, each actor, and others as they interpret the playscript. And ultimately, in the mind of each playgoer and each playreader, the play is evoked as a unique synthesis in response to seeing the stageplay or reading the playbook.


§ 1. CREATION, RE-CREATION, AND RECREATION

The dramatist creates the play as he writes the playscript. The actors and others in the theater re-create the play on the stage. The spectators and readers re-create the play in their minds for their

-93-

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Preface to Drama: An Introduction to Dramatic Literature and Theater Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Foreword iii
  • Contents v
  • Part One - The Preface 1
  • I - Preliminary 3
  • II - The Playscript 25
  • Scene I 44
  • Scene II 52
  • III - The Stageplay 64
  • IV - The Play 93
  • V - The Drama 124
  • H.M.S. Pinafore or the Lass That Loved a Sailor 145
  • Part Two - The Plays 181
  • I - Antigone 185
  • Scene I 192
  • Scene II 197
  • Scene IV 202
  • Scene V 206
  • II - Othello 221
  • Act One 224
  • Scene III - The Council Chamber. 229
  • Act Two 232
  • Scene II - A Street. 242
  • Act Three 251
  • Scene II - A Room in the Citadel. 261
  • Scene IV - Before the Citadel. 263
  • Act Four 276
  • Scene II - A Room in the Citadel. 282
  • Scene III - State Bedroom in the Citadel. 290
  • Act Five 297
  • III - The Ridiculous PræCieuses 320
  • Scene I - La Grange, Du Croisy 323
  • Scene IV - Madelon, Cathos, Gorgibus. 324
  • Scene V - Cathos, Madelon. 325
  • Scene VII - Mascarille, Two Chairmen. 327
  • Scene VIII - Marotte, Mascarillie. 328
  • Scene X - Cathos, Madelon, Mascarille, Marotte. 330
  • Scene XI - Cathos, Madelon, Jodelet, Mascarille, Marotte, Almanzor. 334
  • Scene XII - Lucile, CéLimène, Cathos, Madelon, Mascarille, Jodelet, Marotte, Almanzor, and Fiddlers. 335
  • Scene XIII - Du Croisy, la Grange, Cathos, Madelon, Lucile, CéLimène, Jodelet, Mascarille, Marotte, and Fiddlers. 337
  • Scene XVI - Madelon, Cathos, Jodelet, Mascarille, and Fiddlers. 338
  • Scene. XVIII - Gorgibus, Madelon, Cathos, and Fiddlers. 339
  • IV - Hedda Gabler 344
  • Act Two 347
  • Act Three 370
  • Act Four 390
  • V - Candida 420
  • Act I 423
  • Act II 445
  • VI: Life with Father - A Period Comedy by Lindsay and Crouse 482
  • Act One 485
  • Scene II 503
  • Scene II 517
  • Act Three 548
  • VII - The Glass Menagerie 569
  • Scene 1 572
  • Scene 2 578
  • Scene 3 583
  • Scene 5 587
  • Scene 6 594
  • Scene 7 601
  • VIII - The Crucible 636
  • Act One - (An Overture) 639
  • Act Two 663
  • Act Four 683
  • Appendix 731
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