September 15, 2004

Response to Aristotle's "Poetics"

One thing I found particularly intriguing about the selections from Poetics was Aristotle's hierarchy of the six elements of theatre - especially how he placed plot above character. I guess it was interesting because I have heard so much about 'characterization' in theatre that it seemed more important. However, I realize that this was probably partly due to the emphasis on acting that I have been exposed to. In any case, Aristotle's ideas were contrary my own theory that dynamic characters, once created, will essentially write the plot themselves. It is logical that "...without action there cannot be a tragedy; there may be without character," but I can imagine just how dull such a piece of theater might be. Aristotle's ideas make perfect logical sense, but for me, theater is about more about pathos than logos. I have never seen theater as a tool to change the world, but rather a way to connect to people. I focus more on the emotional and human connection in theater, and thus characterization is what makes theater come alive, what lets it speak to the human spirit.

Aristotle's later sections, on structure and unity of the plot, especially spoke to me as being the highly important building blocks of a play. Aristotle's (and my) concept of the 'ideal tragedy' share a lot in common with what makes a book good. I've always thought of plays in the same league with good literature, and I tried to apply the rules in sections VII and VIII of Poetics to both literature and theater. At first, the concepts seemed so basic, so obvious, but I realized that they are very important in creating such a piece of art. If it were not for rules such as these to govern what goes into a play, it would become very hard to discern the 'good' plays from the masses of incomprehensible, inartistic pieces of work that anyone would try to write!

Posted by holm0567 at September 15, 2004 5:19 PM