That a written drama only comes alive on the stage is one of those truisms that could stand debunking. Certainly something comes alive on the stage during a theatrical performance; call it a play if you wish; but it is not always the drama that is embodied in its originary form on the page. There is no such thing as a fool-proof play that reveals itself regardless of the strength or the weakness of the production in the theatrical experience. I have read many plays that I have subsequently seen in performance, and vice versa, and my experience proves this rule: no production brings out all the dimensions of a good drama; a production may further illuminate some of these dimensions, but no production will illuminate all. And for someone whose concern with theatre extends beyond what may be seen at a local stage, this armchair reader is forced to read those plays that interest him in book form — he can’t just sit around and wait for a local company to produce one of these plays, for that may never happen...
The sensitive reader of the drama will hear the voices and see the movements of the personae on the stage of his own mind: every reader a director. This is also true for listening to recorded opera: as one listens, one may see the Ring in one’s own mind either as realistic as Peter Hall’s or as abstract as Patrice Chereau’s — and any combination of the two approaches.
Aug 17, 2011
My fellow blogger/dad/theater writer, George Hunka, has a thoughtful and encouraging post about the value of reading plays vs. seeing them staged.
Posted by Rob Weinert-Kendt at 10:25 AM