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Actions And Words

August 17, 1986

Dan Sullivan is an excellent drama critic, but sometimes, like Homer, he nods a bit. In "A Play Is Born: Can It Stand on Its Feet?" (Aug. 10), he says: "We do talk a lot about ourselves these days, but we reveal more about ourselves in what we do, whether it's shooting a rival or setting the table, both of which qualify as dramatic actions."

That simply confuses stage movement (physical action) with dramatic action. Physical action may be dramatically meaningless; it may be used for merely technical reasons--e.g., to clear the way for an exit or entrance. Dramatic action is that which advances or enriches the psychological pattern of the play, and it may take the form of physical movement or immobility, words or silence.

But when the psychological pattern is complex, words are usually the playwright's best tool, as all the great or near-great dramatists of past and present will show.

FELIX DOHERTY

Bellflower

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