Sunday, November 9, 2014

some thoughts after seeing Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author"

On Saturday, I had the privilege of seeing Italian playwright, Luigi Pirandello’s absurdist play, Six Characters in Search of an Author at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. As someone who is passionate about the arts, especially writing and theatre, it’s pretty bizarre that I don’t quite allow myself to enjoy theatre and film as much as I should. However, when I do, I’m glad I did and I almost always leave with a craving for more art, and a fire to continue creating my own art and contributing to the artistic world.

Six Characters in Search of An Author did just that, while also making me ponder the tragedy that lies in human relationships—our attempts at relating to other humans and our innate need to relate to (and feed off of) something that is higher than ourselves (ie. God, our own art and the artistic world, nature). 

The play begins with an acting group rehearsing for one of Pirandello's plays, with the help of their director. A few minutes into it, they're interrupted by a family of six very interesting "characters" with a heart-wrenching story to tell. The father of these characters tells the acting group that he and the other five are in search of an author. The play continues with this matter at hand. 

These two short monologues by the father in the play, which were based on the man's traumatic experiences within his family life, moved me beyond words:

"But don't you see that the whole trouble lies here? In words, words. Each one of us has within him a whole world of things, each man of us his own special world. And how can we ever come to an understanding if I put in the words I utter the sense and value of things as I see them; while you who listen to me must inevitably translate them according to the conception of things each one of you has within himself. We think we understand each other, but we never really do…If we could only foresee all the ill that can result from the good that we believe we are doing."

"You have never seen it happen before because authors usually hide the details of their work of creation. Once the characters are alive…Once they are standing truly alive because their author. He does nothing but follow the words and gestures that they suggest to him…And he must want them to be what they themselves want to be. For woe betide him if he doesn’t do what they wish him to do! When a character is born he immediately acquires such an independence…Even of his own author…That everyone can imagine him in a whole host of situations in which his author never thought of placing him…They can even imagine his acquiring, sometimes, a significance that the author never dreamt of giving him."

After watching the play, I began to consider how fickle we are as human beings and how difficult and even tragic human relationships can end up because of our struggle and inability to verbally express what is so deeply entrenched in us. These include the thoughts, feelings, and desires that we want to express more than anything, but we cannot find a way to do so because often times, we ourselves don't even know that those dreams, or sometimes, monsters in us, exist. We have not had the courage to awaken them or confront them. 

Throughout life, we experience troubles and even trauma and we yearn for love and affection from other human beings only to find that we will be let down and misunderstood in one way or another because we are all just human after all. Evidently, the person in the mirror is just as unreliable as that one friend you grew up with who broke a promise or that once-lover who broke your heart. How can we rely solely on ourselves if we, too, are so fickle and so limited?

And that is the tragedy of life. That we as human beings are so complex, so intricate, that at times, especially when we are most vulnerable, we feel as though no other soul will understand us. At times, even we fail to understand ourselves in our own wickedness, confusion, depression, and desperation. And yet, we naturally attempt to relate to others. We adapt and become that which we must become in order to very temporarily relate to other human beings. But for some of us, it isn't enough.

So what do some of us do? We create. We search for the "author" of our lives. And if we are lucky, if we are daring and bold enough to allow our imagination to develop into our creation, we may be able to witness magic in our own art. This happens if we are truthful to ourselves, our flaws, and our fears. If we’re able to conquer them and have the courage to see our art come to life and the willingness to allow our art take us where we want to go…or even places we wouldn't dare go to. We are essentially characters in this life, this stage, and we must act boldly in our own attempt to create, inspire, and re-create. It is a process, one that is indeed multi-relational. And art is a recycling, a more pure form of cleansing and preservation of beauty, perfection and, essentially, truth.

If we continually search deep enough, we'll find our Inner Author. 

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