Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 13. September 12, 1957
T.C. Avoided Pitfalls in — "Six Characters in Search of an Author"
T.C. Avoided Pitfalls in
"Six Characters in Search of an Author"
Training College's "Six Characters in Search of an Author "by Luigi Pirandello. succeeded, as did V.U.C.'s "The Cherry Orchard," because of the company's youth, zest, talent and desire to put on interesting plays as well as they possibly can. I have always had the impression, particularly with Thespians and sometimes with Repertory, that they seem to think that their productions are quite good enough and there is no need to bother with any attempts to improve. There is a lack of vitality and imagination. I would suggest that the reason why the Concert Chamber was practically empty on Friday was not because H.P. gave the play a bad review, but because the standard of production has been declining badly. New blood will have to be injected soon or else they will die of no audience at all. All the Thespians productions I have seen have only been acceptable due to individual performances, such as Colleen Walling as Miranda Frayle, John Jenkins as Tartuffe, Kevin Woodill as Banquo (in their all-time low—"Macbeth"), and Tim Elliot as Bolingbroke. Sometimes it is the fault of the back-stage crew and the set designer. On Friday a border went seven-eighths of the way across the stage, leaving a gap showing lights and scenery. Often the scenery is badly painted, it is hardly ever secure, and the lighting usually shows up these defects because it lights the scenery and not the actors. An attempt at professionalism is better than something that has to be excused by "We are only arnateurs!"
Training College avoided these pitfalls. It was extremely well lit. at times dramatically so. The scenery, what there was of it, was adequate, and the costumes were faithful to the script and not to the latest fashion in the D.I.C. in this difficult and at times obscure play the cast conquered major difficulties with their intensity and enthusiasm for the play. Men, Pirandello says, cannot really understand one another or even be sure that they exist coherently for themselves—except through a work of art in which the artist, serving as God to his own material, fixes the truth and permits us to sec men steadily and whole. Six characters interrupt a rehearsal of a play and persuade the producer to allow them to act out their drama. With continual interruptions and protests from the producer and the actors the six characters attempt to act out their lives an the author had seen them. It is a magnificent play and we owe a debt to Training College for letting us see it again.
The difficult and long role of the Father was excellently acted by Grant Tilly. Graced with a good voice and stage presence, he was always an impressive figure. I don't think I am likely to forget his eyes—the eyes of the damned. Dinah Priestley, as the Step-daughter, had all the fire for the part, but the sneering and arrogant voice and the too-often repeated gestures became at times a little monotonous. At times, though, she was magnificent. Particularly when the Son is trying to leave the stage and finds that he cannot. All eyes are on him, then the silence is broken by her deep gurgling laugh, as she stood arrogantly in the centre of the stage. Her laugh at the very end of the play as she ran out of the theatre is still echoing in my cars. The rest of the cast were competent. Sunny Amey is to be congratulated on the smooth and polished production. A triumph for all concerned.