Six Characters in Search of an Author is a parody of the “well-made play.” All theatrical conventions and functions of personnel are examined in the play-within-the-play, which operates on different temporal planes.
A troupe plans to rehearse a play, and the introductory remarks underline the necessity of following Pirandello’s directions. The Actors’ clothing and mirthful comportment contrast with those of the disintegrated family who appear on stage to be immortalized in art. The rehearsal is postponed, and a theater workshop ensues. As the title suggests, the Characters offer a play-in-the-making, which, like the commedia dell’arte, justifies a “crucial scene.” Their attempt to generate a play, based on a sketch that a writer had made before abandoning the project, constitutes the inner play, while the comments of the Director and Actors, as audiences, form the outside comedy. Their improvisations, however, are judged unsatisfactory; they know neither how to create a play nor how to interpret roles. Without a literary text, the theater, too, must reject them. That is their tragedy.
Even though the Characters cannot agree about the facts, a linear plot emerges, and two events are staged. In the first melodramatic tableau, the Father visits Madame Pace’s boutique, a front for a brothel. While he is embracing his wife’s daughter, the Mother instinctively intervenes to safeguard the girl’s virtue. Unlike those of...
(The entire section is 450 words.)