Pirandello: Transcendent Strategies
The work of Luigi Pirandello unlocks a unique world of ‘transcient-imagery’ and irony and has profoundly reshaped modern and contemporary theater drama. His work ‘unveils an entrance’ into fresh dimensions of human experience and psychological experience/perception. To discover the work of this great restructural master is to gain insight into the profound fundamental complexities that accompanied the gateway existential/sensual experiences ( and interpretations) that lie beneath the ‘surface glamor’ of the modern era. Mr. Pirandello’s work opens a unique ‘doorway’ that point directly into the future. For the beginning of the modern era is also the beginning of the ‘new realignments’ of cultural change and expanding theologies. All of these matters are consistent with the accelerated breakthroughs that established the nature of a reforming western intellectual and scientific inter-structure ( and canon) that would set the tone of the modern era and modern conceptual theory. It cannot be under-estimated that the cultural platform that molded restructural theater/drama in the early nineteen hundreds was itself undergoing a profound shift with regards to the expanding cultural information changes taking place in that time period – changes that signalled new technical and scientific breakthroughs as a consistent phenomenon not separate from the composite forces reshaping western culture. It would be impossible to penetrate into the work of Luigi Pirandello without first recognizing the influence and pressure that writers like Chechov and Strinberg exerted on their generation as well as what their work signalled about the discipline of modern drama from a composite perspective . By the same token it would be a great mistake to limit the dynamic implications of Pirandello to any one context or group of writers because the thrust of his work took it’s own course – separate and unto itself.
For this paper, I would like to establish a viewpoint of Pirandello based on reading three of his works ( two, as part of the requirements of the class , and one more that I discovered accidently – by mis-reading my class list). I have taken this approach because I feel that Pirandello’s work has a kind of ‘strangeness’ to it that is interesting and also that his work has a surprise element in it that begs for analyses. The works I will attempt to comment on in this paper are 1) Henry 1V, 2) Six Characters in search of an author 3) and Each in His Own Way. In many ways I felt each play contained a kind of inner glow that kept my reading interest even as I noted a difference in over all conceptual-radience ( say, in comparison to Shaw whose characters are finally more interesting and developed – with more animation). This is not the case with Pirandello. Overall I experienced his work as a kind of stark conceptual presentation that in time forces the reader to notice the ‘outer’ elements of experience. It is this ‘outer aspect’ that slowly changes the direction of our focus in his work and in the end the reader leaves the experience with hopefully something personal ( and ‘complex’). Pirandello’s work for me paints a kind of ‘active conceptual landscape’ that is pristine and ‘loaded’ with ‘levels of correspondences’ . To experience storytelling in this context is to confront a viewpoint of ‘human relationships’ that explore the psychological and existential paradox of existence and cultural intercourse. He brings another sense of character-modeling into animation (poetic life) – characters that are constantly unfolding themselves for the reader/audience ‘experiencer’ . Pirandello’s understanding of ‘scene-envirnment’ establishes a unique conceptual/feeling (vibrational) space that extends past the classical construct of audience on one end and theater/stage on the other end (two dimensionality) but encompasses instead, the whole of it’s performing space. This approach is a restructural viewpoint of the theater that is not separate from the later attempts to redefine modern theater design and ‘operating- space (logics). And finally, there is a kind of ‘emptiness’ about Pirandello’s work that is hard to ignore. His approach to scene-action construction paints a world of exaggeration that mock’s real identification with the specific focus of a given action but shifts our attention instead to the ‘trans-conceptual’ overtones of his ideas . This to me is one ‘footprint’ of a profound artist mind at work.
In the work Henry 1V, Pirandello’s give us an opportunity to experience surprise on several levels that give insight into a particular ‘way of thinking’ not separate from the changing vibrational backdrop of the changing twentieth century. In this play the reader is given a storytelling experience that takes one into a world of ‘Gothic imagery and spirit that contains a kind of ‘Shakespearean-like’ air. SURPRISE: here we are given a classical kind of story in which a man has found himself locked into a time-warp , frozen into a costumed character separate from his real identity. Does the character Henry 1V know he’s a character imitating a character or does he think that he’s a character imitating a character who has lost his identity to a historical image? Already Pirandello has established the terms of one’s entry- but this is just the beginning. I found the unfolding story of Henry 1V to be quite effective and jarring. In the beginning of the play the reader is slowly set up to ‘anticipate’ the initial stage entrance of the character Henry, yet, when he finally comes on stage – SURPRISE: , he’s a nice guy! ( somehow Pirandello had me thinking a ‘mad man’ was about to enter into the magic arena of the stage, but no this was not the case at all). Instead the reader is presented with the entrance of a character that is instantly recognized as a kind of genus person of depth ( a Vincent Price kind of person who has deep penetrating eyes that hint of something more than two dimensional experiences). Even at this point in the play I found myself aware of Pirandello’s craftsman’s ship. He has an understanding of literal vocabulary that is lifting and etched. SURPRISE: suddenly, because a play is a play, the reader is given an opportunity to experience the returning of the major characters in Henry 1V’s life- the same people who were also present at the time of a most ‘unfortunate’ accident that took away his memory twenty years before. What an incredible idea! This is classical and restructural idea at the same time – but of course there is more. The forward thrust of the play creates a kind of unique energy that establishes the internal dialogue relationships between characters, yet in the end the reader is left with an experience that is ‘open’ and incomplete . Was Henry really crazy or did he use ‘the occasion’ to settle old accounts with demonstrated enemies? Pirandello isn’t talking and the reader is suddenly given an opportunity to experience ‘wonder’ and ‘imagination’. ( ‘ and isn’t it also true that Henry seemed to recognize the character Donna Matilda?’; the dialogue will go on and on). For me, Henry 1V represented one of the more classical plays of Mr. Pirandello, yet even in this context, his understanding of language and language construction and ‘pace’ is exceptional.
In the play Six Character’s in search of an author, Pirandello extends the correspondence domain of his craft to create three-dimensional image-constucts that can be viewed as major points of definition for the new spatial strategies that would come to the fore in the 1990’s. The dynamics of Pirandello’s work in this context would redefine the internal cross-relationships that dictate classical image modeling into the modern era. In ‘Six Characters’ Pirandello create 1) a state of contexting that doesn’t classically demarcate into the theater-stage and the audience-space construct 2) a context of characters, with a given set of personality traits separate from a specific context of storyline 3) the concept of characters taking on the role of characters and 4) direct attempts to acknowledge the audience in a way that incorporates ‘actual time’ references 5) the use of an ‘insert’ reference that recast the author’s ‘signature’ into the seat of the theater-action and finally 6) the use of philosophical questions that provide a basis for dialogue-interaction ( and conceptual motivation). The experience of reading this play has a kind of ‘fresh-openess’ that transports the reader into a unique ‘asethetic-realm’. In the first category, Pirandello rearranges the ‘event-space’ of the theater by taking away the staging imagery that normally provides the backdrop of associations for modern storytelling. The friendly theater goer enters into a performance space that has no pretty ‘overblown stage production props’ but rather, a context that seeks to strip away the periphery of the art – and point instead at the core of imagination and identification. Even the actors are given lines to speak of their uneasiness at the new ‘alignments’. Once the opening terms of the drama has unfolded, the audience is then given a kind of ‘new real-time’ drama that speaks of extended correspondences that transcend any one image-context or stage design . This is a call to the essence of drama and challenge ( even from the actors). Pirandello is giving us a context of actors who are playing actors ( who disagree with the way other ‘created’ actors ‘play’ themselves!). Again, in this idea-parameter context, Pirandello is changing the fundamental alignments that govern character development and design. Add to this development the use of insinuindo and vagueness about matters of the plot and the story telling imaginary-universe of Pirandello extends to become a unique domain with it’s own implications.
The concept of projected character tendencies that transcend any definite literary story context is a profound restructural breakthrough that cannot be viewed separate from the composite changes that redirected the new avant guard movement of the post world war one time cycle. With this new tool Pirandello is opening the door to a fresh context of model-imaging and re-contextuali-zation. The use of this new technique would give the actual actor unique opportunities and terrains to explore so that the new ‘extended’ actor/storyteller could be encouraged to explore the depth of his craft, psyche and creativity in new ways ( with respect to the ‘origin’ character model giving by Pirandello as well as the individual ‘personal affinity-world’ of the experiencing actor). Character model-ing in this context would see the creation of partial personality ‘construct-tendencies’ that also contains a ‘partial character history’. With an approach of this nature the actor and reader/audience can feel in the ‘in-between lines’ in the plot, so that no two event-interpretations will be exactly alike ( even when two or more people experience the same action-moment in the play). Pirandello has helped to create a fresh state of interaction dynamics that invites a new relationship with the experiencing audience/reader. His concept of form modeling in ‘Six Characters’ obscures the line between audience identification and participation. This is a way of realigning the constructs of perceived reality. SURPRISE: Is ‘Six Characters’ a play about a group of actors playing actors or is the play a context for actors and audience to have an experience together? Pirandello leaves it for us to work out on our own, and yet it is clear that even in this context there is always a philosophical motive lurking in the shadows that will define the whole of the action in a unique way. In a given moment of the play one of the actors will ask another actor to turn and face the audience – or to ‘speak louder’ so that the audience will hear him better. These are interactive performance techniques designed to ensnare the audience into the inner reality of the play.
The use of inserted self-reference logics in Pirandello’s work is a three-dimensional technique that expands the operating conceptual-state of his concept of dialogue. In this area of his work Pirandello gives us a sense of his humor as well. The reader/audience is constantly hearing the name of the author of the play being recasts into the actual ‘effective-dialogue space of the play. There are several aspects to this technique: a) the actors are always complaining about Pirandello’s unpredictableness and obtrusiveness b) the actors will continually refer to the incompleteness of the material Pirandello has given them and c) the actors are always complaining that Pirandello is over rated with an opinion of himself that is too egotistic. I find the use of this technique to be quite wonderful and inventive. Pirandello has a sense of humor and this is important to me. In many ways this technique reminds me of Alfred Hichcock , who always appeared inside of his own movies. This to me is the ultimate use of recursion theory – that being; to project oneself through oneself to create something new – and then to ‘enjoy it’! This technique also gives Pirandello the possibility to keep his work immediate in a ‘polarity-immediate’ kind of way ( and the net effect of this technique keeps the plot and the audience a little off balance through out the whole play).
The use of targeted philosophical questions as part of the asethetic-lining of Pirandello’s work establishes a unique context of correspondence logic strategies that furthers the vibrational state of changing European intellectualism in an important time period of geo-political world change. On the surface Pirandello’s work is an attempt to create a fresh field of animate experiences for the challenge of exploratory character involvement. But the nature of this context is not approached without respect for fundamental questions that give insight into a field of intellectual and philosophical thought. Pirandello is asking us to not just sit back and enjoy his play but rather, to penetrate into the questions and strategies raised in the drama. The audience in effect becomes one of the actors in the expanded domain of the action. In ‘Six Characters…’ Pirandello constantly poses the question of what is reality, – he writes that everyone is an actor in real life ( he is talks about the role of the imagination). In this play the plot contains many different suggestions about the fragmented past of the characters ( allusions to incest, into profound family problems, the complex relationships of a family, the dynamics of husband and wife interaction dynamics, the perception of ‘image’ when viewed from an extended time parameter( the changing perceptions that come through experiences in time with one’s life’s partner- and one’s self). Pirandello’s play addresses all of these areas and more ( and in every case there is a ‘field of ambiguity’ that permeates his conceptual ‘contexting’. His work establishes it’s own way in it’s original use of inter-action logics and multi-imagery.
In the play ‘Each in His Own Way’ Pirandello gives us another opportunity to enter into a three dimensional reality state that extends the perceptual parameters of modern drama. This is a work that continues to explore the super-parameters of storytelling modeling and ‘opens the door’ into a garden of activity that is pure Pirandello. Here is a work in which 1) the actors on stage are one third of a strategy that extends into the audience on through to the foyer of the performing theater itself 2) the plot contains a use of recursion that has the actor-characters on stage speak of events that refer to ‘positioned-real’ characters who have come to see the actual play being performed and 3) the use of spatial location conceptual strategies that have restructural implications for the expanded techniques of the changing post world war two avant guard explorative agenda. The thrust of this play ‘reseats’ the ‘real’ audience ( who came to experience an Pirandello play) right in the ‘middle’ of a triple level theater-experience in a position akin to something like a referee. This is a concept of form that repositions the performing actors throughout the performing space to use the ‘extended theater’. With this technique Pirandello has advanced the art form into the twentieth century- even though in fact he has transported us back to the real state of possibilities of the early period in Greece ( and also the Baroque Period of trans-European progressionalism, – a period that would see composers like Monteverdi position musicians all over the performing space of the music house to have antiphonal ‘sonic-experiences’ that were multi-directional). With the play ‘Each in His Own Way’ Pirandello has created a hologram-expereince that puts the reader/audience into a ‘hall of mirrors’ that contains three-dimensional correspondence logics and feelings. Suddenly, with this technique, given theater events can happen that are outside of what every audience member can experience ( ie: in the foyer, outside of the basic stage area where the audience sits). The use of this technique gives the creative writer the possibility to have ‘local’ and ‘composite’ event strategies that can transform the ‘image-vibrational-state’ of a given occurrence. With this technique Pirandello has ‘layers of multiple events’ taking place that extends the realm of directional possibilities for ‘poetic dramatic experiences’. But the real secret of Pirandello’s understanding of extended form can be understood by examining his use of event-modeling in the actual story narratives he creates. This is so because the actual story of ‘Each In His Own Way’ breaks down as a story theater-play rather than comes to an end in the classical sense of story completion. The heart of this strategy gives a restructural viewpoint of narrative logics and design. These are not stories to be resolved in a neat arrangement of ‘flowers’ , but rather ‘snapshots’ into the dynamics of the ever changing moment ( that can be shared by both the actors and the audience). Pirandello’s elusiveness in formal character-projection is really pointing the way for a fresh approach to ‘identification’ and ‘motivation’. This is an understanding of form that is not separate from the gradual emergence of spatial distance mapping as an inter-co ordinating factor in contemporary modeling strategies. Pirandello’s plays are seeping into the ‘streets’ of the community because the classical concept of the theater cannot contain his vision.
The use of three dimensional logic constructs in Pirandello’s work forecast a kind of busyness that makes for unique moment strategies. This is an image state that forwards the restructural and classical dimensions of play writing. In Pirandello’s work the reader/audience is given a first class literary writer who has the ability to create real character ‘sensations’ that is consistent with the developed thrust of classical literalness practiced by writers of the level of Chechov and Shakespeare. Pirandello is able to take the reader on ‘the ride of his choice’ as a writer. His understanding and feeling for language is first class ( and he also has the ability to position ‘those nuances’ that comment on the sutle ‘meanings’ – and levels of meanings- that can take place in a moment). I like that about his work. With Pirandello, one is given a real literary experience that can be trusted- because the level of the technique, and the demonstrated weight of his documented work rejoices in a composite viewpoint that has universal implications. The audience in a Pirandello work can come away with many different levels of experience – depending on what’s real for each person. This is the beginning of the trans-idiomatic logic strategies that point more and more to ‘the possibilities’ of a given direction or process- as a point to expand from, rather than a two dimensional identity context that tells someone what to think. By taking this approach, Pirandello is preparing us for the new strategies of the computer age.