Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays, Paperback

Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays Paperback

Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Pirandello (1867-1936) is the founding architect of twentieth-century drama, brilliantly innovatory in his forms and themes, and in the combined energy, imagination and visual colours of his theatre.

This volume of plays, translated from the Italian by Mark Musa, opens with Six Characters in Search of an Author, Pirandello's most popular and controversial work in which six characters invade the stage and demand to be included in the play.

The tragedy "Henry IV" dramatizes the lucid madness of a man who may be King.

In "So It Is (If You Think So)", the townspeople exercise a morbid curiosity attempting to discover 'the truth' about the Ponza family.

Each of these plays can lay claim to being Pirandello's masterpiece, and in exploring the nature of human personality each one stretches the resources of drama to their limits.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Plays, playscripts
  • ISBN: 9780140189223



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Review by

They say I was born in June. The day, the year somehow ceases to exist. I live with my mother. She stares at the wall, singing songs unnoticing my existence in the house. Is this how being an orphan feels like? I used to work at Madame Pace’s dress shop. Only it wasn’t a dress shop. It was a whore house where I used to entertain clients throughout the night. My mother was unaware of my earnings, but as if it mattered. Then, one day I fell in love. In fact, I fell in love with his eyes. The same brown affectionate eyes that I own. They were so memorable, they were mine. I could see myself in them. My eyes on this strange face, mesmerizing yet daunting. He was my client, elderly yet so affectionate. Months went by, but he never visited me again. I looked for him but no avail. They say, he shot himself out of guilt. He was my biological father. The shame of seducing his own blood ate him up after finding my truth. So, as I lay in a pool of blood, the cold metal burning against my sinful hands, I pierce the sharp edge into the warm blob of flesh. I killed my baby. I killed my brother. I practically cease to exist now. Shame and numbness has weighed my soul into nothingness. The man once my mother had left my father for took her away. So, here I come to you with an unfilled life and an unfinished story pleading you to bring an authored conclusion.<br/><br/>“You imbecile”, yelled the stage-manager. “You expect me to believe this garbage and let my actors perform your absurdity".<br/><br/>“Yes”, I affirm, “The settings should be realistic and the truth should be told in its unaltered form.”<br/><br/>“I am an unrealized character sir”, I humbly say, “I need you to finish my story and bring it to life”.<br/><br/>The stage manager now enraged walks away hurling obscenities and muttering, “Acting is our business here. Truth up to a certain point, but no further”; as he looks at me with a sardonic smile.<br/><br/><br/>Pirandello illuminates the ‘Theatre of Absurd’ genre in this bizarre performance. A form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations and plots that lack realistic or logical development. Purely in its theatrical form he depicts a tale of six characters in search of an author who is able not only to complete their fragmentary story but to perform their ingenuous legitimacy. A story which is not a story after all. Through the numerous arguments between the six characters and the stage manager about portrayal of reality in its unaltered state to the audiences marks the debate of life reality v/s stage reality. The sense of illusion what is illustrated to be a reality on performance stage is far from the factual forms.<br/><br/>The plethora of reality television that demarcates an entire generation outlook mutates the genuineness of its characters. How real are the nuances of these actors who state publicly that their respected shows are not scripted but spontaneous? The movies that state ‘based on a true story’, how far do they enact the truth or is pragmatism edited to normalization of absurdity. Pirandello stresses on the theatre being an illusion of reality where actors masquerade real emotions through rehearsals and mutability.<br/><br/>A brilliant existentialism perception of individuals being characters all through their life portraying roles that their born into and the normality of emotions attached to their specific roles. Who are we? The roles that we are born into or the tangible roles we want to play.<br/>

Review by

Six Characters in Search of an Author annoyed me so much at first! It's a hard play to grasp at the beginning, but it starts to make sense and it's a unique play with an odd dynamic. Pirandello did a great job with the writing, he obviously knew what he was going for and it came out clear in the ending.

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