In Play, Beckett uses dialogue.How is it different from the usual function of dialogue as regards the organizing of material, events, time, ideas, references?
How dialogue is different as regards the organisation of material, events, time, references. Play Beckett
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Let’s first outline the “normal” function of dialogue in a play – 1. exposition; 2: speech acts; 3; registers of emotion; 4: revelation of character; 5: advancement of plot
In a normal play, the characters utter “speech acts” (they state facts, promise, defend, announce, deny, etc.) to each other, and respond to the utterances they hear. In the course of doing so, the playwright gives the audience information about what happened before the curtain rose (exposition), moves the plot along, revealing character traits and actions in the process, and indicates the emotions driving the characters (anger, jealousy, doubt, etc.).
In Play, however, three persons are apparently side by side in near proximity, and they are speaking, that is, making words, but they do not speak to each other or hear each other or react to the utterances in their vicinity. So, technically, it is not "dialogue" (speech between) but rather words uttered without a communicative purpose. Judging from the contents, they seem to be the voicing of their random thoughts – they are saying aloud what we normally keep inside ourselves – nonsense nursery songs, random half remembered moments, meaningless strings of words, etc. Since they are encased in urns up to their chins, they don’t look at or react to each other. Beckett’s “dialogue,” then, is stripped down to a metaphor for all pointless, fruitless, undirected noise that seems like dialogue but is really just human heads making noise. There is no direction to the utterances – one could even say no reason for the utterances to be in this particular order.
Having said that, however, one might construct three “personalities” from the collective utterances if an artificial motive were assigned to them through a slow recursive reading process. On stage in performance, however, the "drama" is simply the imitation of the action called “talking,” except that the three characters (one man and two women) seem to be recalling the same events, but from their separate points of view. So the play is also making the point that reality depends on the perceptions of each person, experienced and remembered and reworded by each of the participants. Reality is a "play" we perform for ourselves.
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