Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for August 26th, 2018

A labyrinth of emotions

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[The] ability to start the spectator’s brain working is just one of the theatre’s properties. But it has another, quite different property: it can stimulate the spectator’s feelings and steer him through a complex labyrinth of emotions. Since the theatre has the power to stimulate the emotions as well as the intellect, it follows that it is wrong for a play as a work of art to limit itself to sheer rhetoric, employing raisonneurs and indulging in dialogues borrowed from the so-called “conversational theatre.” We reject such a theatre as a mere debating chamber. I could recite this lecture to piano or orchestral accompaniment, leaving pauses for the audience to listen to the music and digest my arguments; but it would not transform my lecture and you, the audience, into a dramatic performance.

Since a dramatic performance depends on laws peculiar to the theatre, it is not enough for it to appeal purely to the spectator’s intellect. A play must do more than prompt some idea or depict events in such a way as to invite automatic conclusions. Actors do not perform simply to demonstrate the idea of the author, the director or themselves; their struggles, the whole dramatic conflict has a far higher aim than the mere exposition of thesis and antithesis. It is not for that that the public goes to the theatre.

Vsevolod Meyerhold, Meyerhold on Theatre

Written by nevalalee

August 26, 2018 at 7:30 am

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