A Heated Discussion Between Playwrights

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1687 Words
Date:  2022-03-09

Plays and playwrights have always been a great attraction for theaters over the centuries. History depicts that the earliest playwrights were Ancient Greeks. They wrote plays for annual Athenian competitions during the fifth century. Although the ancient and the modern playwrights may differ in opinions about the theater, styles, plot, diction, thought, music, and characters, it should be noted that the modern playwrights still rely on the work of their ancient counterparts. One of the renowned best playwrights of all times is regarded as William Shakespeare. Even with the absence of the technology available today, Shakespeare could deliver plays using the globe theatre. Assuming a heated discussion occurs between Shakespeare, Hrotsvitha, and Tony Kushner about the theater, they would have differing opinions because their thoughts would be based on the environment and the period of their work.

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The first discussion the three playwrights would have is about the construction of the theater. Hrotsvitha would argue that the theater is a unifying experience for the audience. It is a means of spreading knowledge and morality to individuals who would lack such exposure (Hrotsvitha, c. 965). Additionally, she would argue that the theater is mostly geared towards the rich, but they are less likely to thrive in society with their patronage. Further, this playwright would claim that the public theaters are constructed to certain specifications with most being round in shape, and three stories high. Some are also made of timber, lath, and plaster as well as a thatched roof.

In contrast, Shakespeare would contend that a theater has a general design. It consists of a large playing area with a door in the center of the stage. In this context, Shakespeare argues based on where his plays were performed. Besides, he would state that theaters were mainly for the wealthy who hosted touring productions in their homes. These productions would involve music and dance as well as elaborate costumes and scenery.

Kushner (1993), on the other hand, would contend that the twentieth-century theaters have undergone explicit changes starting to the design and structure to the performance. It is because the beginning of the century saw the introduction of refurbished theaters with the provision for screening films (Kushner, 1993). Unlike the ancient period, the 20th-century theaters combine cinema and theater as illustrated in a 2008 documentary film, Theater of war. He can also claim that modern theaters have a separate projection room as part of the new regulation.

Kushner (1993) would also say that flashing lights, electronic sound, smoke, and microphones for actors were not available during the periods of Shakespeare and Hrotsvitha. The special effects in the times of these playwrights include ''ekkyklema'' and cranes for lifting actors into the air. Most of these effects are not applicable today because modern audiences need a realistic play which could not be achieved by the impact in ancient times. Although modern theaters still wire to make actors appear to be flying, the machine is more advanced than the one used during the era of Shakespeare and Hrotsvitha.

The three playwrights would also talk about the theme of the theater. Shakespeare and Hrotsvitha would explain that the classical theater consists of a theme, with a singing component. They state that the arrangement in the classical stage is extraordinary as it embodies the following: a crane to get many divine characters, a solitary working with a wide pathway on the stage, and a moving zone for the theme. Also, on-screen characters in this theater are all males who perform in veils.

On the contrary, Kushner (1993) would highlight that the theme of the twentieth Century Theater wide consists of a solitary form or various genre. His 1992 play, Angels in America Part One, for instance, is an epic in the sense that his work covers the contemporary issue such as gay marriages and HIV/AIDS. Therefore, according to Kushner, theaters tend to cover stories that affect society. He would also mention that modern theater has different kinds of characters that control the drama. Simply put, a drama consists of a protagonist, antagonist, and confidante.

In addition to the characters, the playwright would state that the principal foundation of the contemporary theater lies in dialogues, genre, theme, and convention. Regarding characterization, Kushner (1993) would argue that character is only of interest so long as it illuminates the fleeting event that gives the writer or actor a meaningful gesture. Kushner (1993) would view the character as a function of the economic and social forces that control and shape the world. The actors can use these forces as tools to show the impact of greater social implications.

Another discussion would be based on the acting styles used in theaters. Shakespeare would argue that the classical style follows the traditional Shakespearean style of theater, an established acting form founded on the British theater (Postlewait, 2009). This style focuses on control and accuracy in performance. The established performers are organized and recognizable. Shakespeare would determine that the strength of this style its ability to bring character to life in a precisely crafted script.

On the same point, Kushner (1993) would argue that theater today employs naturalism and music with an emphasis on an intricate acting style. Naturalism is a theater that attempts to build a perfect illusion of reality through various dramatic and theatrical strategies. These strategies include detailed, three-dimensional setting; a secular- worldview; an extension of the social range of actors; an exclusive focus of indigenous subjects; and a style that takes the audience to the world of reality.

Although Kushner (1993) is concerned about realism, he aims to inform the audience that what they are watching is a construction of reality being presented on the stage. To this end, he argues that several techniques can be applied in a play to inform the audience that the play is indeed a construction. He says that the use of stage directions is one technique in a play that a playwright can remind the audience that what they are watching is a construction. Kushner (1993) argues that stage directions not only eliminate the shock factor, but it also prevents any emotional attachment to the piece.

Hrotsvitha (c. 965) would also present her view on the style. Her work dwelt on her religious beliefs, as indicated in Dulcitius play that teaches Christians to live a life of purity to celebrate God's greatness. Since her plays aimed to praise Christianity, she would argue that realism style is incomplete without the involvement of gods and spirits. According to her, the classical theaters follow the religious contexts, and it is this context that can enhance reality in a play. For instance, most of the plays in the Ancient Greek employed spirits and gods during wars and religious celebrations. The gods and spirits played a central role in these events. This implies that religion created the primary theme in the classical theater, unlike the modern theater that is done for a broader reason.

Another significant subject of discussion that the playwrights would consider is the challenges faced by theater artists and their audiences. Shakespeare and Hrotsvitha would argue that the biggest challenge faced by theater artists is marketing. According to them, it was difficult to market any artwork during the ancient period because theater work was given priority by the wealthy. This implies that attracting a large population was difficult because they showed little interest in theatrical activities. Also, the marketing problem was influenced by limited resources at the time. The limited resources made it difficult for theater artists to reach a broad audience.

In contrast, Kushner (1993) may argue that the big problem faced by theater artists is not marketing, but piracy. The growing technology today has helped the modern artists to market their work and reach a large audience. However, these artists face piracy problem where unauthorized people duplicate and sell the work of the artists without their permission. Kushner may claim that the development of technology has contributed to this problem. Another challenge, Kushner (1993) may identify is creativity. In the past, Theater artists relied on their ideas, opinions, knowledge, and experience to produce artwork. Traditional artists also constructed various kinds of performance events and related them to historical agents, social and political conditions, as well as artistic traditions as demonstrated by Postlewait (2009). This shows that the traditional assessment and production methods focused on objectivity which helped the artists to produce something unique. In contrast, most of the artwork in the modern era lacks creativity which is a significant factor in the theater. It is because playwrights and artists of the contemporary era depend on the ideas of the traditional artists to produce their work.

Due to this dependence, Kushner (1993) might state that the artists today have a problem of innovation. This challenge may be transferred to the audience who do not receive something new from the performers due to acquired ideas. In this respect, Hrotsvitha (c. 965) may argue that drama teaches empathy. However, Shakespeare may describe drama as a 'unique act' which makes objective and alternative responses a reliable part of dramatic reactions. While ancient artists had the problem of exposure to resources, modern artists have full access to these resources, but they lack creativity.

Overall, in a heated discussion between Shakespeare, Hrotsvitha, and Kushner, the three playwrights would argue based on the periods they wrote plays. Shakespeare and Hrotsvitha would argue from the ancient perspective, whereas Kushner's argument would follow modernity. The main areas for discussion that these playwrights would consider include themes in a theater, styles, characterization, and the possible challenges faced by theater artists. Shakespeare and Hrotsvitha's argument may be equal at some point because they focus on the ancient periods. However, Kushner arguments would rely on the changes that have occurred in the theater from the classical period to the current time.


Hrotsvitha. (c. 965). Prefaces and the play Dulcitius. https://www.scribd.com/document/267990449/Drama-Medieval-Hrosvitha-Dulcitius

Kushner, T. (n.d.). Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (Vol. 1). Theatre Communications Group. http://media.virbcdn.com/files/21/3d843460fdab8880-angelsinamerica.pdf

Postlewait, T. (2009). The Cambridge introduction to theatre historiography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://books.google.co.ke/books/about/The_Cambridge_Introduction_to_Theatre_Hi.html?id=8rGohN078pIC&redir_esc=y

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A Heated Discussion Between Playwrights. (2022, Mar 09). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/a-heated-discussion-between-playwrights

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