The play “Six Characters in Search of an Author” belongs to the theatre of absurd and it was written by Luigi Pirandello in 1921 when it was also performed in the Theatre Valle in Rome.
As it usually goes with plays of this type, the audience and the critics had different opinions about it. During the first performance of this play there was a scandal about the incest. While some thought that the play was completely demented, others saw true art in it. With time the audience came to accept it more. In 1925 in the 3rd edition Pirandello explained better the ideas he wanted to convey with the work and also clarified its structure.
In the play “Six Characters In Search of an Author” we have two plots – the theatre and the reality. Actors and a director come to an unprepared stage where a new play by Pirandello called “Mixing it up” was about to be rehearsed. Then the members of the family appear and ask the actors to perform their life story. The actors try to rehears it. The play inside a play talks about The Father giving up The Mother so she could be with the secretary with which she had 3 kids. She allegedly worked in a tailoring shop which was actually a cover up for a brothel in which The Stepdaughter worked.
It is emphasized through the work that there is no limit between reality and illusion because they intertwine all the time like the actors roles intertwine with the real people. The real people are themselves and the actors impersonate them emphasizing their tragic lives.
The work itself varies between a comedy and a tragedy. Even though everything is intertwined, it is all logically linked and doesn’t become chaotic in any moment. Still, the audience had a difficult time accepting it as a work of art.
The play was also performed on Broadway in 1922. It is composed of three acts and the plot takes place in a theatre.
Everything revolves around the fall of a family.
In the beginning we see a stage where the rehearsal of Pirandello’s play is taking place. The actors and the staff come along and then we are introduced to the Leading Lady, Leading Man, Manager, Prompter and many others. The rehearsal gets interrupted by the arrival of six people. All of them belong to the same family and their goal is to find a director that would tell the story of their family.
Their life is the other plot – the reality. Their names are only symbolic – The Father, The Mother, The Son, The Boy, The Girl and The Stepdaughter. The actors agreed to perform the family’s story that is being told mostly by The Stepdaughter and The Father.
The story goes like this. The Father decided to leave The Mother so she could be with a secretary. The Mother and The Secretary have three kids. The family isn’t ideal and their relationships between certain members are tense and hostile. The Stepdaughter can’t hide the hatred she feels towards The Son and The Boy and The Son can’t stand The Mother. The Father seems completely uninterested about his family but still claims to have always loved them.
The second act of the play starts when Madame Pace gets invited to the stage by the other characters. She is the owner of a tailoring shop in which The Mother starts working after the death of The Secretary. Even though The Mother works hard in the shop to feed her family, the shop was actually a cover up for a brothel. The Stepdaughter worked there and she was in reality the main source of income for the family.
The plot twists when The Father goes to the tailoring shop in search of a girl with whom he could have a good time. He accidentally chose The Stepdaughter and went with her into a room after he paid for everything. The following act by them is being interrupted by The Mother’s scream.
He later comes back to The Mother and accepts her and her children into his house where he lived with The Son. The situation becomes unbearable.
In the third act The Mother wants to get more involved in the upbringing of The Son so he would love her more. She became very occupied with him so she was unable to take care of her other children. New tragedies come along.
The Son closes up, The Girl drowns and The Boy shots himself with a gun. The actors try to perform their life story but can’t seem to get a hold of it. Madame Pace appears again but leaves soon. When the shot was fired everyone ran away and the rehearsal ended.
Characters: The Father, The Mother, The Son, The Boy, The Girl and The Stepdaughter, Leading Lady, Leading Man, Manager, Prompter, Second Lady
The Father is in his 50s with a moustache and blue eyes. He is a sweet talker with sharp and rough sentences.
The Mother always has her eyes pointed into the ground, dressed in black with a pale face.
The Stepdaughter has 18 years and is pretty but also shameless. He also wears black but in the same time she shows despise towards her dead brother.
The Son is 22 years old and always shows contempt for his father and indifference towards his mother
The Boy has 14 years and also wears black and The Girl has only four years and wears white.
Madame Pace is an obese woman that carries a cigarette in one hand and a hand fan in the other.