lunes, 5 de junio de 2023

El drama: Forma y acción, no mensaje

 Retropost, 2013:

Un pasaje de J. L. Styan, The Elements of Drama, contra la idea de un teatro "de ideas" o "realista", y defendiendo el mostrar sobre el decir, y las convenciones, la estilización, la construcción de una forma dramática autosustentada:

By the laws of comic theatre and of any comic art, perhaps the more incisevely and vigorously the writer wishes to probe, the farther into a Ruritania must he transport the spectator first. 

So a first step towards judgment is not to ask how far it is like life, but why it is different from life. But in asking 'why?', we come close to looking for theat tiresome, misleading, ungainly phantom, the play's 'message'. The common assumption that the more the playwright teaches a tidy lesson, the more considerable it is, is a dangerous fallacy. Though we may consciously disavow it, it is an assumption we hold unwittingly. Drama does not tell what it has to say, but shows it. The good mother does not say to her child, 'Go away and play'; she says specifically, 'See if you can find the cotton-reel in my basket'. The playwright owes to his audience to find particular and concret action for the general and abstract idea, so that the playgoer can move across common ground with him. Because the stage expects concrete detail of behaviour for its living actors, no other literary form is more objective, less moralizing. (...)

Without losing one's sense of the complexity of the whole, the discssion must become one about the ordering and emphasis of the play and the relation of its parts, not immediately about its content or message. Injustice has been done to the work of Bernard Shaw, though he invited it himself, by a general refusal to give him credit as an artist before assessing hims as a thinker. This is somewhat true of Molière, is still largely true of Strindberg and Pirandello, for years was true of Shakespeare, and may yet blight the fortunes of M. Anouilh today. Shaw's own attitude to Ibsen, as seen in The Quintessence of Ibsenism, showed a similar error of judgment. Should the spectator become aware of the preacher in the playwright, aware that a view of life is being thrust upon him, the play will destroy itself. 

A poem can make a deep and broad meaning out of a tiny subject, and what is true of poetry is true of drama. The meaning that matters emerges from the way the subject is treated. the family of The Cherry Orchard makes a departure, the family of The Three Sisters does not, but there the seminal ideas end: the rest is growth and fruition. The satisfaction of drama arises from no logical consistency in the events, nor from their magnitude. The power of the play comes of its consistency within itself, and its content achieves magnitude by the quality of its exploration, its with of view and its sense of proportion.

In arriving at a judgment, the second step is therefore one inseparable from our decision about the quality of the texture and the offering of the impressions, together with decisions about the delicacy and precision by which the author and his agents originate and project them. (1960: 262-3)


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