Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

A theater for imbeciles

with one comment

F.T. Marinetti

The [conventional] theatre is the literary form that most distorts and diminishes an author’s talent. This form, much more than lyric poetry or the novel, is subject to the demands of technique:

  1. To omit every notion that doesn’t conform to public taste;
  2. Once a theatrical idea has been found (expressible in a few pages), to stretch it out over two, three or four acts;
  3. To surround an interesting character with many pointless types: coat-holders, door-openers, all sorts of bizarre comic turns;
  4. To make the length of each act vary between half and three-quarters of an hour;
  5. To construct each act taking care to (a) begin with seven or eight absolutely useless pages, (b) introduce a tenth of your idea in the first act, five-tenths in the second, four-tenths in the third, (c) shape your acts for rising excitement, each act being no more than a preparation for the finale, (d) always make the first act a little boring so that the second can be amusing and the third devouring;
  6. To set off every essential line with a hundred or more insignificant preparatory lines;
  7. Never to devote less than a page to explaining an entrance or an exit minutely;
  8. To apply systematically to the whole play the rule of a superficial variety, to the acts, scenes, and lines. For instance, to make one act a day, another an evening, another deep night; to make one act pathetic, another anguished, another sublime; when you have to prolong a dialogue between two actors, make something happen to interrupt it, a falling vase, a passing mandolin player…Or else have the actors constantly move around from sitting to standing, from right to left, and meanwhile vary the dialogue to make it seem as if a bomb might explode outside at any moment (e.g., the betrayed husband might catch his wife red-handed) when actually nothing is going to explode until the end of the act;
  9. To be enormously careful about the verisimilitude of the plot;
  10. To write your play in such a manner that the audience understands in the finest detail the how and why of everything that takes place on the stage, above all that it knows by the last act how the protagonists will end up…

It’s stupid to allow one’s talent to be burdened with the weight of a technique that anyone (even imbeciles) can acquire by study, practice, and patience.

F.T. Marinetti, Emilio Settimelli, and Bruno Corr, “The Futurist Synthetic Theatre”

Written by nevalalee

May 7, 2016 at 7:30 am

One Response

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  1. Television productions would rile him then? Great post.


    October 21, 2016 at 7:48 am

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