Bray cites Williams’s own journal, in which the writer had described minimalist balletic movement for the actors (Bray ix; see also Leverich 446).
Previously unpublished material by Tennessee Williams printed by permission of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. Robert Edmond Jones, having studied and worked with Max Reinhardt in Europe, was a strong proponent of the New Stagecraft for the American theatre. [Edward Charles] Mabie as that of the formidable head of the speech and drama department at Iowa when Williams was a student there.
All rights whatsoever are strictly reserved and all inquiries should be made to Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Ltd., National House, 60-66 Wardour Street, London W1V4ND. Maria Ley, a dancer who choreographed for Reinhardt, was Piscator’s wife. The author has found an essay from 1919 that speaks of plastic theatre in the same sense that Williams uses the term, stating: “The Plastic Theater offers us the right to project onto one plane a multiplicity of means of artistic expression and to enclose them in a unity.
Because of its considerable delicate or tenuous material, atmospheric touches and subtleties of direction play a particularly important part. It is unlikely that Williams ever saw this parallel use of his term.
Expressionism and all other unconventional techniques in drama have only one valid aim, and that is a closer approach to truth. (The essay refers to a series of dances, Balli Plastici [plastic dances], designed in 1918 by Fortunato Depero, a Futurist painter, sculptor, and designer.
Boxill, Jackson, Griffin, Roudané, Hale, Neumann, and Bray are all precisely correctand in absolute agreement, as we can plainly seein all their interpretations and the illustrations they invoke to show Williams’s application of his own notion. , and thus can be seen as a kind of restatement of an idea about which Williams has already written.
Although Williams never again discussed plastic theatre in a public forum, he did reinforce his ideas, and essentially reify the analysts’ understanding, in private communications. and which are as much a native part of drama as words and ideas are. The journal entry, however, dates from between January and April 1942 (which we shall see is just after he was a student in Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop and while he was assisting Piscator on a production), so we may regard it as a step in Williams’s development of the ideapresumably before he conceived the term “plastic theatre.” Even without the name, itself, however, it is clear that “sculptural drama” invokes the same theatricality that “plastic theatre” does in the note. They have to do with a conception of new, plastic theatre which must take the place of the exhausted theatre of realistic conventions if the theatre is to resume vitality as a part of our culture. (xix-xxii) Williams is referring to a drama that was more than just a picture of reality: he insists that his ideal theatre make use of all the stage arts to generate a theatrical experience greater than mere Realism. Roudané and Allean Hale, both of whom include it in more general discussions (Roudané 10; Hale 24). ,” ultimately says no more about the concept than, “The purpose of this ‘plastic theatre,’ of which lighting, music, set, and props are essential elements, is to provide ‘a more penetrating and vivid expression of things as they are’ than mere realism can accomplish”little more than a restatement of Williams’s own declaration in the , which he edited. When a play employs unconventional techniques, it is not, or certainly shouldn’t be, trying to escape its responsibility of dealing with reality, or interpreting experience, but is actually or should be attempting to find a closer approach, a more penetrating and vivid expression of things as they are. The essay originally appeared in Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, the association representing these professionals, prefers the Germanic form of the word to the French (because the inventor of the field, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, was German). The straight realistic play with its genuine Frigidaire and authentic ice-cubes, its characters who speak exactly as its audience speaks, corresponds to the academic landscape and has the same virtue of a photographic likeness. Nonetheless, the etymology is the same: “a worker of plays.” , with an eye to his original staging directions. Indeed, Williams’s stage directions in the original script of called for decidedly plastic elements, including dozens of slide projections, film-like soundtrack music, and dissolving and fading lighting (none of which made it to the stage under Eddie Dowling’s direction). ¶2 The scholarship that has focused on Williams’s plastic theatre principally examines its practical implications. Everyone should know nowadays the unimportance of the photographic in art: that truth, life, or reality is an organic thing which the poetic imagination can represent or suggest, in essence, only through transformation, through changing into other forms than those which were merely present in appearance. Two such productions were in California: one at the Pasadena Playhouse (5 May-18 June 2000; directed by Andrew J. “Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research: 1940, 1941.” [Program brochure and catalogue.] New York, 1939. These remarks are not meant as a preface only to this particular play. Robinson) and the other by the American Conservatory Theater at the Geary Theater in San Francisco (29 March-28 April 2002; directed by Laird Williamson).