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- The Dramatic Imagination: Reflections And Speculations On The Art Of The Theatre
- The dramatic imagination
The new stage craft in america.
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No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
It was an extension of life, not a duplication, a heightening rather than a reproduction. The vision of what the theatre might be, as opposed to what it is, was present in almost every word Bobby ever wrote or spoke. No one who heard him could doubt his dedication, no one who saw his work question his genius.
He was an unashamed pleader for beauty and, far more important, an unsurpassed creator of it. Just as Midas had the touch of gold, Bobby had the quickening touch of radiance. The ugliest scenes in real life throbbed with beauty when he had transformed them into scenery.
Not as insipid or self-advertising prettiness. Not that at all. Instead they acquired a tension, a sense of mood, a luminosity, and a quality of drama which made spectators at once aware that reality had been lifted into theatre, and theatre into art.
I have to write about Bobby and his career in personal terms. As a matter of fact, the first article about the theatre I ever wrote for a newspaper was about him.
The first time I ever saw Robert Edmond Jones was when he came to speak at Harvard during my sophomore year. To those of us already stage-struck his coming was the cause of considerable excitement. We undergraduates who cared about the stage had not read our Kenneth Macgowan for nothing. Bobby stepped onto the pink and white platform of the Music Building, wearing evening clothes as if they pained his spirit. His face was paler than the moon.
He looked young, incredibly young. He seemed shy, frightened really, and there was something about him of the holy man which he did not try to hide. It seemed to come naturally to him and we sophomores accepted him on his own terms. His speech, though hesitant, was sonorous.
Most of what he said I do not now remember. I can, however, hear the richness of his voice. I also recall surrendering to his gift for conjuring visions with words. It was during that same season that Bobby did his celebrated settings for the Arthur Hopkins production of Macbeth in which Lionel Barrymore and Julia Arthur appeared.
The revival, though a brave attempt, was a resounding failure. One reason was that the all too solid flesh and realistic performances of Mr. On the Sunday before this Macbeth opened, however, Mr. Hopkins contributed an article to the Times which, tattered and yellowed is still pasted in my Temple edition of the play. These are the two extremes.
But it would be both unfair and untrue to suggest that he was a kind of grave St. Cecilia of scenic art. He loved life and he loved laughter, and his own laughter was the merriest of music. The lines that he put down were always capable of realization on a stage. His driving hope was to give the theatre glory and dignity and excitement. This he did again and again in visual terms and as no one else has done for our stage.
If only more people at present dared to talk and write as Bobby did because they shared his determination and ability to restore dreams to our almost dreamless theatre! These thoughts have come to me in the midst of rehearsals and in dress-parades and on the long journeys to out-of-town tryouts and in the continual collaboration with playwrights and managers and actors and stagehands and costumers and electricians and wigmakers and shoemakers which has made up my life in the theatre. Out of the manifold contacts of my experience the image of a new theatre has gradually formed itself—a theatre not yet made with hands.
I look forward to this ideal theatre and word toward it. Modern psychology has made us all familiar with the idea of the Unconscious. We have learned that beneath the surface of an ordinary everyday normal casual conscious existence there lies a vast dynamic world of impulse and dream, a hinterland of energy which has an independent existence of its own and laws of its own: laws which motivate all our thoughts and our actions.
This energy expresses itself to us in our conscious life in a never-ending stream of images, running incessantly through our minds from the cradle to the grave, and perhaps beyond. The concept of the Unconscious has profoundly influenced the intellectual life of our day. It has already become a commonplace of our thinking, and it is beginning to find an expression in our art.
Writers like James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Dos Passos, Sherwood Anderson—to name only a few—have ventured boldly into the realm of the subjective and have recorded the results of their exploration in all sorts of new and arresting forms. The stream-ofconsciousness method of writing is an established convention of literature. It is readily accepted by the public and is intelligible to everyone.
Our playwrights, too, have begun to explore this land of dreams. They are casting about for ways in which to express the activity of the sub-conscious mind, to express thought before it becomes articulate. They are seeking to penetrate beneath the surface of our everyday life into the stream of images which has its source in the deep unknown springs of our being.
They are attempting to express directly to the audience the unspoken thoughts of their characters, to show us not only the patterns of their conscious behavior but the pattern of their subconscious lives. These adventures into a new awareness of life indicate a trend in dramatic writing which is bound to become more clearly understood.
But in their search for ways in which to embody this new awareness they have neglected to observe that there has recently come into existence the perfect medium for expressing the Unconscious in terms of the theatre. This medium is the talking picture. In the simultaneous use of the living actor and the talking picture in the theatre there lies a wholly new theatrical art, whose possibilities are as infinite as those of speech The dramatic imagination 2 itself.
There exists today a curious misconception as to the essential nature of motion pictures. We accept them unthinkingly as objective transcripts of life, whereas in reality they are subjective images of life. This fact becomes evident at once if we think of some well-known motion-picture star appearing in person on a stage and then of the same star appearing on the screen, a bodiless echo, a memory, a dream. Each self has its own reality, but the one is objective and the other is subjective.
Motion pictures are our thoughts made visible and audible. They flow in a swift succession of images, precisely as our thoughts do, and their speed, with their flashbacks—like sudden up-rushes of memory—and their abrupt transitions from one subject to another, approximates very closely the speed of our thinking.
They have the rhythm of the thought-stream and the same uncanny ability to move forward or backward in space or time, unhampered by the rationalizations of the conscious mind.
They project pure thought, pure dream, pure inner life. Here lies the potential importance of this new invention. A new medium of dramatic expression has become available at the very moment when it is most needed in the theatre. Our dramatists now have it in their power to enlarge the scope of their dramas to an almost infinite extent by the use of these moving and speaking images.
Some new playwright will presently set a motion-picture screen on the stage above and behind his actors and will reveal simultaneously the two worlds of the Conscious and the Unconscious which together make up the world we live in—the outer world and the inner world, the objective world of actuality and the subjective world of motive. On the stage we shall see the actual characters of the drama; on the screen we shall see their hidden secret selves.
The drama will express the behavior of the characters set against a moving background, the expression of their subconscious mind—a continuous action and interaction. All art moves inevitably toward this new synthesis of actuality and dream.
Our present forms of drama and theatre are not adequate to express our newly enlarged consciousness of life. But within the next decade a new dimension may be added to them, and the eternal subject of drama—the conflict of Man and his Destiny—will take on a new significance. Some people say it is a temple, some say it is a brothel, some say it is a laboratory, or a workshop, or it may be an art, or a plaything, or a corporation. But whatever it is, one thing is true about it.
There is not enough fine workmanship in it. There is too much incompetence in it. The theatre demands of its craftsmen that they know their jobs.
The theatre is a school. We shall never have done with studying and learning. In the theatre, as in life, we try first of all to free ourselves, as far as we can, from our own limitations.
When the curtain rises, it is the scenery that sets the key of the play. A stage setting is not a background; it is an environment. Players act in a setting, not against it. When I go to the theatre, I want to get an eyeful. Why not? In spite of myself, I have become fascinated, wondering whether the castle door I have seen in the first act is going to turn into a refectory table in the second act or a hope-chest in the last act. And I do not want to look at a setting that is merely smart or novel or chic, a setting that tells me that it is the latest fashion, as though its designer had taken a flying trip like a spring buyer and brought back a trunk full of the latest styles in scenery.
I want my imagination to be stimulated by what I see on the stage. But the moment I get a sense of ingenuity, a sense of effort, my imagination is not stimulated; it is starved.
That play is finished as far as I am concerned. For I have come to the theatre to see a play, not to see the work done on a play. A good scene should be, not a picture, but an image. Scene-designing is not what most The dramatic imagination 4 people imagine it is—a branch of interior decorating. There is no more reason for a room on a stage to be a reproduction of an actual room than for an actor who plays the part of Napoleon to be Napoleon or for an actor who plays Death in the old morality play to be dead.
Everything that is actual must undergo a strange metamorphosis, a kind of seachange, before it can become truth in the theatre.
The Dramatic Imagination: Reflections And Speculations On The Art Of The Theatre
Published by Theatre Arts Books, c Written in English. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read The Dramatic Imagination: Reflections and Speculations on the Art of the Theatre, Reissue. The Dramatic Imagination is one of the few enduring works written about set Edmond Jones's innovations in set design and lighting brought new ideas to the stage, but it is greater understanding of design - its role at the heart of theater - that has continued to inspire theater students. Dramatic Imagination Vol. Action Antagonist.
Journal of Humanities, Arts and Social Science. Mariem Khmiri. The post-print era was peculiar for a dramatic shift in the study of the humanities. Concomitant with this insurgency called digitization was the inscription of ideology on the minds of its subjects which succeeded in disconcerting many of those who spoke confidently for a digital revolution in the academic context. The debate whether digitized knowledge should be scrutinized in a competitive or a cooperative light has brought with it a certain indeterminacy of definition which allows it to figure in a varied span of concerns: self and other, past and present, sign and concept, etc. My argument is that the category of the digital assumes the polysemy it does in our modern world because, in speaking of the humanities, it speaks also of power relations which are at the heart of the struggle for cultural hegemony. Ultimately, in its cooperative or competitive underpinnings, the subjectivity of the user is the epistemic source most actively engaged in producing and extracting meaning in a digital context.
The volume includes "A New Kind of Drama," "To a Young Stage Designer" and six other of Jones's "reflections." Author(s). Biography. The American scenic.
The dramatic imagination
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No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. J6 —dc22 The theatre Bobby Jones believed in and created was a theatre that did not take the dim view and had not lost its sense of wonder. It was an extension of life, not a duplication, a heightening rather than a reproduction. The vision of what the theatre might be, as opposed to what it is, was present in almost every word Bobby ever wrote or spoke.
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