On the Stage

The present day playwright and actor both strive – how shall I express this more succinctly for you – they strive to be life-like, realistic… On the stage you see what you see in ordinary life… But is that what we need? What we need is expressiveness, a grand effect. As it is your life has bored you to tears, you’ve grown accustomed to it, got used to it, what you need is something …  something that’ll tear your nerves apart, play havoc with your insides! The actor of old used to speak with an unnatural, sepulchral voice, beat himself on the chest with his fists, roared, disappeared into the earth, but on the other hand he was so expressive! There was expression in his words. He spoke about duty, about humanity, about freedom… In each scene you saw self-sacrifice, great achievements of devotion, suffering, furious passion! And now?! Now, as you see, we have to have reality… You look on the stage and what do you see? Pfff! You see some wretch… some swindler, a worm eaten creature in shabby trousers spouting some nonsense.
A Dissertation on Drama by Anton Chekhov

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