By Zander Brietzke
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Extra info for American Drama in the Age of Film
My chief complaint against theater arises when it tries to present subject matter in the same way as the other media and can’t do it as well. 10 / Chapter 1 “For the theater to survive the 21st century,” lamented critic Clive Barnes of the New York Post, “it will have to do what it singularly failed to do in the 20th century: take note of its competitors, and not attempt to do badly what they can do better” (“Theater Must Do”). Film and television are more “worldly” media than theater and are therefore better equipped to present realistic portrayals of human lives and events.
In the theater, however, the human ﬁgure attracts primary focus. In the cinema, the camera moves and everything else moves with it. On the stage, though, the audience sits still, and only the actors move and attract attention (I’m not counting the occasional falling chandelier or hovering helicopter that may land on American stages). ) designed to ﬁt in the dollhouse. The human ﬁgure contrasts with the surrounding scenery, and historically this has been one reason why the actor has performed in front of scenery and not around it.
A ﬁne actor in ﬁlm, Artaud’s artistic credentials as a director are limited to a few productions, most notably Shelley’s The Cenci. 9 Although it is possible to see how Shelley’s play would lend itself to radical production ideas, Artaud discovered that it was quite difﬁcult to discard words altogether and that an established plot provided a structure with which to work. While Brecht agrees with Aristotle that “narrative is the soul of drama” (Brecht on Theatre 183), he argues that the method of construction should be wholly different.