INCOMPLETE CHARACTERS: PIRANDELLO'S FATHER, CHEKHOV'S COLONEL, AND BRECHT'S GOOD WOMAN (ITALY, RUSSIA, GERMANY)
This study aims at a reading of character that allows for psychological inconsistency and behavioral discontinuity. The readings of Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, and Bertolt Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan attempt to account for and allow for apparent disunities in character opinion and behavior within a coherent interpretation. They try to suggest ways for the actors playing the roles to accommodate such disunities, while also creating coherent interpretations in their performances. Throughout, I have tried to unite the concerns of critics and those of actors, the least explored relationship in the collaborative process of theater. Pirandello's character The Father, Chekhov's Colonel Vershinin, and Brecht's Shen Te/Shui Ta are each incomplete in some way. They lack the means for survival or happiness. They live at odds with their circumstances. In order to gain control over these circumstances, they make attempts to revise themselves and the world around them. But these efforts to alter reality contradict that reality and keep the characters out of sync with it. Because they can never remake the world, their thwarted attempts to do so remain incomplete. Their behavior seems discontinuous; their psychology, fragmentary and unfinished. These characters are incomplete in another way. They are theatrical creations and, as such, can only fully exist in performance when interpreted by the actor. Moreover, they are conscious creations in that their status as characters for the stage is acknowledged and explored by their creators. They cannot be whole human beings precisely because they are characters. The readings--not the theory of character--are the center of this study. Each play redefines the problem of character completeness. The Father attempts to rewrite his abandoned life. Vershinin leaps out of the actual present into an imagined future. Shen Te creates Shui Ta in order to complete herself. Each author encounters the futility of attempts to complete oneself by changing the world.