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Pirandello:<I>Six Characters in Search of an Author</I>
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  • 12 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 272 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.46 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 852/.912
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PQ4835.I7 S4348 2005
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Pirandello, Luigi,--1867-1936.--Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore
    • Pirandello, Luigi,--1867-1936--Dramatic production
    • Pirandello, Luigi,--1867-1936--Stage history

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521641517 | ISBN-10: 0521641519)

Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author

Since its explosive premiere in Rome in 1921, Six Characters in Search of an Author has gained worldwide recognition. Pirandello’s challenge to the very notion of stage representation was taken up by the leading directors of the time. The playwright incorporated details from the early performances into his revised text, which he directed himself in 1925. Jennifer Lorch examines the two texts in the context of different theatrical traditions and traces Pirandello’s growing awareness of the development of advanced theatrical facilities outside Italy. She also offers an analysis of selected productions of the play in Italy, England, France, the USA, Germany and Russia in both commercial and avant-garde theatres. This comprehensive study includes a production chronology, bibliography and illustrations from major productions.


Series editor: Michael Robinson


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Molière: Don Juan by David Whitton

Wilde: Salome by William Tydeman and Steven Price

Brecht: Mother Courage and Her Children by Peter Thomson

Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire by Philip C. Kolin

O’Neill: Long Day’s Journey into Night by Brenda Murphy

Albee: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Stephen J. Bottoms

Beckett: Waiting for Godot by David Bradby

Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author by Jennifer Lorch


Six Characters in Search of an Author



University of Warwick

The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge, CB2 2RU, UK
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011–4211, USA
477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia
Ruiz de Alarcón 13, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa

© Jennifer Lorch 2005

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2005

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

Typeface Adobe Garamond 10.75/14 pt.     System LATEX 2e   [TB]

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
Lorch, Jennifer.
Pirandello: Six characters in search of an author / Jennifer Lorch.
p.  cm. – (Plays in production)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0 521 64151 9 (hardback) – ISBN 0 521 64618 9 (paperback)
1. Pirandello, Luigi, 1867–1936. Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore.  2. Pirandello, Luigi, 1867–1936 – Dramatic production.  3. Pirandello, Luigi, 1867–1936 – Stage history.  I. Title.  II. Series.
PQ4835.I7S4348   2004
852′.912 – dc22       2004045817

ISBN 0 521 64151 9 hardback
ISBN 0 521 64618 9 paperback


List of illustrations page ix
General preface xi
Acknowledgements xii
  Introduction 1
1   Six Characters in Search of an Author – the play (1921) 15
2   The first production: Teatro Valle, Rome, 9 May 1921, directed by Dario Niccodemi 31
3   Two early productions in London and New York (1922) 44
4   Pitoëff’s production in Paris (1923) 54
5   Reinhardt’s production in Berlin (1924) 68
6   Pirandello’s production of the 1925 text (1925) 79
7   Six Characters on the Italian stage (1936–1993) 93
8   Two English productions (1929 and 1963) 124
9   Becoming part of national theatre in France and England 135
10   Making Six Characters accessible: Robert Brustein and Richard Jones 155
11   Pushing at the frontiers of theatre: Klaus Michael Grüber and Anatoli Vasiliev 170
12   A brief look at Six Characters in other media 195
  Conclusion 199
  Select production chronology 204
  Notes 210
  Select bibliography 239
  Index 247


1   Vera Vergani as the Stepdaughter in the first production, directed by Dario Niccodemi, Teatro Valle, Rome, 1921. (Photo: Museo dell’Attore, Genoa.) page 42
2   The first American production, directed by Brock Pemberton, Princess Theater, New York, 1922. (Photo: The Billy Rose Theatre Collection New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lenox and Tilden Foundátion.) 48
3   The first production in France, directed by Georges Pitoëff, Comédie des Champs-Elysées, Paris, 1923. (Photo: Nicholas Treatt.) 65
4   The production by Max Reinhardt, Die Komödie, Berlin, 1924. (Photo: Museo dell’Attore, Genoa.) 77
5   The first production of the 1925 text, directed by Luigi Pirandello, Teatro Odescalchi, Rome, 1925. (Photo: Museo dell’Attore, Genoa.) 90
6   The production by Giorgio de Lullo, Teatro Quirino, Rome, 1964. (Photo: Museo dell’Attore, Genoa.) 108
7   The production by Tyrone Guthrie, Festival Theatre, Cambridge, 1929. (Photo: Pollard Crowther.) 129
8   The Comédie française production by Antoine Bourseiller, 1978. (Photo: Claude Angelini, Bibliothèque de la Comédie française.) 144
9   Production by Michael Rudman, National Theatre, London, 1987. (Photo: Mac Dougall, Group Three Photography.) 150
10   Production by Richard Jones, Young Vic Theatre, 2001. (Photo: Keith Patterson, Young Vic Theatre.) 168
11   The production by Anatoli Vasiliev, School of Dramatic Art, Moscow, 1987. (Photo: F. Bezukladnikov, courtesy of Birgit Beumers.) 193

Note: Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders of the illustrations included in this volume. Any queries concerning copyright should be directed to Cambridge University Press, The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU.


Volumes in the series Plays in Production take major dramatic texts and examine their transposition, firstly on to the stage and, secondly, where appropriate, into other media. Each book includes concise but informed studies of individual dramatic texts, focusing on the original theatrical and historical context of a play in relation to its initial performance and reception followed by subsequent major interpretations on stage, both under the impact of changing social, political and cultural values, and in response to developments in the theatre generally.

   Many of the plays also have been transposed into other media – film, opera, television, ballet – which may well be the form in which they are first encountered by a contemporary audience. Thus, a substantial study of the play-text and the issues it raises for theatrical realization is supplemented by an assessment of such adaptations as well as the production history, where the emphasis is on the development of a performance tradition for each work, including staging and acting styles, rather than simply the archaeological reconstruction of past performances.

   Plays included in the series are all likely to receive regular performance and individual volumes will be of interest to the informed reader as well as to students of theatre history and literature. Each book also contains an annotated production chronology as well as numerous photographs from key performances.

Michael Robinson
University of East Anglia


I have been much helped in the writing of this book by friends, colleagues and institutions. My thanks go first of all to the many Pirandello specialists, theatre scholars and practitioners who have been so generous with their time and materials; in particular, Clive Barker, Birgit Beumers, Guy Callan, Orazio Costa, Alessandro d’Amico, Felicity Firth, Anna Frabetti, Richard Jones, Anna Laura Lepschy, Dick McCaw, Mario Missiroli, François Orsini, Domenico Pietropaolo, Sacha Pitoëff, Michael Rössner, Alessandro Tinteri and Anatoli Vasiliev.

   My visits to libraries and archive collections have been much enhanced by staff who have gone out of their way to help in my work: Joël Huthwohl of the Bibliothèque of the Comédie française, Annette Fern of the Houghton Library of the Harvard College Library, Olga Khramtsova of the Moscow School of Dramatic Art, Louise Ray of the National Theatre Archives, London, Gian Domenico Ricaldone of the Biblioteca dell’Attore, Genoa, and staff of the British Library and the New York Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Centre.

   As any one who has attempted to do this knows, the acquisition of illustrations can be both time-consuming and frustrating. I have been most fortunate in my dealings with Birgit Beumers of the University of Bristol, Annette Fern of the Houghton Library of the Harvard College Library, James McDougall of Group Three Photography, Mélanie Petetin of the Comédie française and Gian Domenico Ricaldone of the Biblioteca dell’Attore, Genoa. That I have not always used the photographs provided in no way diminishes my appreciation of their assistance.

   The research materials for this book exceeded my linguistic competence. It is with much gratitude, therefore, that I thank two translators, who translated material from German referring to Klaus Michael Grüber and Anatoli Vasiliev: Andrea Klaus and Richard Lorch.

   I wish also to record my gratitude to the British Academy whose award of a Small Research Grant enabled me to spend some time in Rome and Genoa researching the Italian productions included in this volume.

   I am grateful, too, to Michael Robinson, the series editor, and Vicki Cooper of Cambridge University Press who have waited with patient forbearance for the completion of this volume, and to Libby Willis, the copy editor, whose efficient and courteous attention to detail has much improved the text. (Any remaining errors are, of course, mine.)

   And, finally, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to those who have given me support and encouragement along the way: in particular, to members of the Society for Pirandello Studies and of the Department of Italian at the University of Warwick, and to a longstanding friend from undergraduate days, Patricia West. I have much appreciated the support of colleagues, friends and family. Unfortunately, the person to whom I owe most can no longer receive my thanks: Meg Stacey died while this book was in production. My debt to her is immeasurable.

Jennifer Lorch

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