Friday, December 29, 2006

Reading Drama

Dirty Hands is probably my favorite Jean-Paul Sartre play. However, I can't imagine a staged production of the play being any good at all. Scenes go on much longer than they need to. The negotiations between Hoederer, Karsky, and the Prince about the makeup of a joint governing body make for rivoting reading, but I can't imagine it as anything but completely dull when performed on stage. It's a good read with tension and drama, but I think it would make a lousy show.

So how do we evaluate this or any drama? Is a play only as good as its actual performance, or is it to be measured by the words on the page? Or is there a platonic, idealized conception of the production, an imagined production which can never be realized, for which plays are truly evaluated?

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