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Playwrights on Playwriting: Thornton Wilder #1

July 5, 2013

–from his essay “Some thoughts on Playwriting” published in “The Intent of the Artist” edited by Augusto Centeno, Princeton University Press 1941

“Four fundamental conditions of the drama separate it from the other arts. Each of these conditions has its advantages and disadvantages, each requires a particular aptitude from the dramatist, and from each there are a number of instructive consequences to be derived. These conditions are:
1. The theatre is an art which reposes on the work of many collaborators;
2. It is addressed to the group-mind;
3. It is based upon a pretense and its very nature calls out a multiplication of pretenses;
4. Its action takes place in a perpetual present time.

“One may well ask: why write for the theatre at all? Why not work in the novel where deviations from one’s intentions cannot take place? There are two answers:
1. The theatre presents certain vitalities of its own so inviting and stimulation that the writer is willing to receive them in compensation for this inevitable variation from an exact image.
2. The dramatist through working in the theatre gradually learns not merely to take account of the presence of the collaborators, but to derive advantage from them; and he learns, above all, to organize the play in such a way that its strength lies not in appearances beyond his control, but in the succession of events and in the unfolding of an idea, in narration.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 5, 2013 6:43 pm

    A lot 2 think about. Will read it again. Thnk U.

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