Rejecting the notion of theater as a pastime or a didactic vehicle, Alfred Jarry viewed dramatic art as a creative pursuit reserved for an elite who would actively participate in it. In his essay “De l’inutilité du théâtre au théâtre,” Jarry revealed in detail his theory of what drama ought to be if it is to survive as a great art form.
Jarry insisted that characters should be walking abstractions more complicated and integrated than those to which audiences were accustomed and who are, on close examination, merely shallow imitations of real human beings. In the same manner, the act of writing could no longer be emphasized, nor a role designed for a particular actor, for the obvious reason that once the actor had retired or was dead, it would be impossible to find an identical replacement. Such a practice, in any case, was a futile exercise, since it did not involve imagination or artistic intuition. Jarry dismissed the plays of Jean Racine on the ground that they were merely a collage of parts written for specific actors and actresses. Viewed from this new perspective, the myth of the star who is an individual speaking for and about himself should be done away with once and for all. More than half a century later, Genet would adopt this idea in Les Nègres (pb. 1958; The Blacks, 1960) and Les Paravents (pr., pb. 1961; The Screens, 1962).
Actors are what they are—if not stupid, certainly...
(The entire section is 2550 words.)
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