Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello: Summary

At the opening of the play, some people are rehearsing Pirandello's Mixing it Up. Meanwhile, the six characters enter the stage from the back. With the feeling of awkwardness, the father explains that they are in search of an author as they have stories within them. The angry manager responds negatively, but the father replies that life is full of absurdities and if one tries to reverse this truth then it is the madness of acting.

Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

Father sadly explains that their author denied them the stage life and the immortality, so, they bring themselves to the company. The characters are passionate enough to relive their tragic story and to complete what their author has been unable to finish. The step daughter explains that her mother is widowed despite the fact that there is a father. Her mother’s lover and the boy’s father died two months ago. The father of the play was the friend of the mother. He adopted her and her son. The step daughter became a prostitute for Madame Pace due to financial difficulties. The father turns out to be her client in the town. The son's coldness to the family member is the center issue of the play. The child will die, the boy will meet tragedy and the step daughter will flee.

After hearing their story, the manager shows interest and gives the actors twenty minute break. He leaves for his office with the characters. After twenty minutes, the step daughter appears with the boy and the child. She laments for the death of the child in the fountain. She said if she were in place of the child she would have killed Father and the son.

The manager gets the stage prepared and orders the actors to rehearse. The father asks in confusion why the characters themselves cannot present them in front of the public. The manager scolds him, saying that it is actors who act. While the step daughter and Pace are in rehearsal, the actors tell them to speak aloud, but they say they cannot do so because father may overhear them. The father greets the prostitute and offers her a new hat. She rejects the hat stating that she is in mourning. The manager stops them and calls the leading man and the lady to play the same scene. The father again protests in the decision of the author. The leading man tells the manager that he could not act in front of the author.

He instructs the Father to continue. When step-daughter speaks of her grief, he must reply 'I understand.' But the father asked her to remove her frock. She then refuses to let the author compose whatever they like. Then, realizing tomorrow the actors will do as they wish, she let them the scene as it truly was.

The next scene is being practiced in a garden. The step daughter tells the manager that entire scene cannot be done in a scene. The manager in angry note rebukes her that in an act three and four scenes cannot be changed. The Leading Lady remarks that it makes the illusion easier. When father hears the word illusion, he approaches the manager and asks if he could tell him who he really is. The character is always somebody while a man might be nobody.

The Manager prepares for the scene. Stepdaughter leads Child to the fountain. The Second Lady Lead and Juvenile Lead come and study Mother and Son. The Son feels odd to live before a mirror that not only "freezes us with the image of ourselves, but throws out likeness back at us with a horrible grimace." He further protests that there was no scene between him and Mother.

As mother went to his room to speak with him, he simply went into the garden. He then notices the drowning Child in the fountain, and the Boy. A sound of a gunshot is heard. Some cry that the Boy is dead; others that it is only "make believe" and "pretense." The manager is confused and cries in frustration, "To hell with it all. Never in my life has such a thing happened to me. I've lost a whole day over these people, a whole day!"

Related Topics

Six Characters in Search of an Author: Introduction

The Relation between the Creator and the Created in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Modernism in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Scientific and Philosophical Theories of Relativity in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Art and Life in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Relationship between Characters and Actors in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Illusion and Reality in Six Characters in Search of an Author

The Concept of Meta-theatre in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Luigi Pirandello: Biography