Six Characters in Search of an Author created Luigi Pirandello's international reputation in the 1920s and is still the play by which he is most widely identified.
With originality that was startling to his contemporaries, Pirandello introduced a striking and compelling dramatic situation that initially baffled but eventually dazzled audiences and critics alike. In what begins as a realistic play he introduces six figures who make the extraordinary claim that they are the incomplete but independent products of an artist's imagination—"characters" the artist abandoned when he couldn't complete their story. These "characters" have arrived on the stage to find an author themselves, someone who will give them the fullness of literary life that their original author has denied them. Furthermore, these "characters" claim that they are more "real" than the actors who eventually want to portray them.
This concept was so startling it helped to incite a riot in the audience when the original production of the play was staged in Rome on May 10, 1921. Later that year, however, audiences and critics had assimilated the extraordinary idea and were enchanted by a remounted production in Milan. The play would then see successful productions in London and New York in February and October of 1922 in Paris in 1923, and in Berlin and Vienna in 1924. Pirandello's own theatre company, founded in 1925, then performed the play in Italian throughout the major cities of Europe and North and South America. As a result of this assault on the theatre world, Pirandello became one of the most respected and influential dramatists in the world by the end of the 1920s, and today Six Characters in Search of an Author is considered one of the most influential plays in the history of world literature.