Article Title

Towards a Theater of Immobility: Henry IV, The Condemned of Altona, and The Balcony


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Drama, like music, is in its traditional form a temporal art, progressing dialectically from situation through conflict to resolution and from a stage-time in the present to another stage-time in the present, whether the interval is a Racinian twenty-four hours or a Shakespearean number of years. Although radical experiments with temporality characterized the early twentieth-century modernist revolution in the novel and the cinema, the restrictions of the stage and the weight of tradition made the drama relatively impervious to change. Indeed, it is not until the appearance of Waiting for Godot in 1953 that we find a drama without temporal progression or temporal reference, a form that is truly dramatic and yet in which "nothing happens, twice." Although experimentation with dramatic time occurs in theater characterized by theatricality or self-reflexivity, from the baroque to the turn-of-the-century avant-garde, it is the theater of Pirandello that would most deeply influence radical change in modem dramatic form, first of all in France. Writing in 1957 of the Pitoeffs' 1923 production of Six Characters in Search of an Author, Georges Neveux remarked, "The theater of an entire epoch came out of the belly of this play."1 The maternal metaphor is particularly appropriate for Pirandello's theater, concerned as it is with the metaphorical birth process of the theatrical work, a process Pirandello compares to the natural birth process in his preface to Six Characters.

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