Activities for Six Characters

Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI

Select the Activity question you wish to respond to. Make a copy of the question to begin your Activity. Post your response to the Blackboard Activity 7: Six Characters Forum. I will comment on your Activity on the Forum, and send your grade to you privately, by email. If you select the double credit option, let me know that when you post it, so I can consider it for double credit.

Six Characters is a play about making a play. Art about the making of art is typical of the modernist period. Can you think of any movie you've seen which is about making a movie? If so, compare it to Six Characters. Be specific about what the film and play have in common, how they are different, and SO WHAT?
Six Characters includes a play within the play, when the six characters act out their tragedy with Madame Pace. What do you think the point is of the play within the play? What effect does it have on the actors? On us, the audience? Use specific examples from the play to support your ideas. 
Who seem more "real" in Six Characters, the characters or the actors and Producer who are studying them? Actually, is anyone "real" in a play? Explain who you think seem more real and SO WHAT? Support your ideas with examples from the play. 
In the "Preface" to Six Characters, Pirandello says that the Father is all "mind" and the mother is pure "nature" -- she is unaware of her situation, while the Father is aware of everything. Do you agree with the Father? Give specific examples from the play to support your agreement or disagreement. You may also want to make some comments about sexual stereotyping, if the mood hits you.
The six characters seeking an author are a metaphor for human beings seeking God -- the author of their being, who can give meaning to their lives. Can you compare their situation to previous seekers we have read about -- Candide, or Faust, or even Orgon come to mind. What do such seekers have in common? In what interesting ways are they different?  SO WHAT? Use examples from your readings to support your ideas.
Pirandello is famous for breaking down the illusion of the person as a solid, single, knowable being who knows who he/she is and what he/she wants. Describe just how unclear the actual nature of the characters is. What are these six characters and what do they want? Support your ideas with examples from the text.
If you're feeling ambitions, read "Dora," by Freud (1394), and then rethink Six Characters. Pirandello is one of the early playwrights strongly influenced by Freud and his analytic methods of thinking about human character and behavior. Can you see any of the connections? Explain in detail, using relevant examples from both texts. This can be worth double credit, if you do a thorough job. 
In Act II of Six Characters, after the Father and Stepdaughter act out the scene at Madame Pace's, the Producer has his actors do the same scene. The Stepdaughter keeps interrupting, insisting that the scene is not being done correctly. Finally, the Father explains that the problem is that the actors are "not us."

What is the point of this scene? Who is "real" here -- the characters whose tragedy it is, or the "real" actors who act it out? How does this scene express the issues of the play as a whole? Support your comments with examples from the play. 

Tartuffe presents a family with a dominant, insensitive, even cruel father, Orgon, yet his wife, Elmire, while polite, is never subservient, and manages to manipulate him successfully, at least in the long run. Compare/ contrast Elmire's skill and success with the wretched fate of the poor Mother in Six Characters. Support your ideas with examples from both plays.


(c) Diane Thompson: 8/1/1998; updated: 08/11/2005