Guido Paduano, Teatro. Personaggio e condizione umana. Roma: Carocci, 2020, pp. 209.
In this book the author analyses those theatrical masterpieces in which the ability to represent and give meaning to humanity’s principal hopes and needs is to be most clearly discerned. Beginning with the tragedies of Ancient Greece and Greek and Latin comedy, it continues with the rejection of Aristotelian conventions and the reaction against tradition by the twentieth-century European avant-garde. En route it pauses to consider Seneca, Shakespeare, French classicism and the theatrical output of the nineteenth century, from Goethe’s Faust to Wagner, before targeting the analysis towards Pirandello, Brecht, Ionesco and Beckett. The quest in search of a meaning for the human condition and thus for the art of representation is staged through the changes in interpretation of the concepts of freedom, guilt, responsibility and fate, embodied by turns on the part of the characters and through the theatrical transformation of the relationship between the individual and society. This exploration, despite its complexity, is rendered straightforward and informative thanks to the logic of its structure and the successful linking of the many and various filaments of the argument. The approach to the great theatrical works is both exact and impassioned. The plot summaries, both stringent and incisive and, furthermore, having the capacity to convey the inherent meaning, make for engrossing reading. Ample space is given to differing interpretative positions and lively discussions arise, thus lending an atmosphere of intellectual adventure to the whole discourse. Finally, the special relationship Guido Paduano maintains with the texts, and his extensive knowledge in many different spheres allow him to retrace themes and situations which recur in various works, both theatrical and musical, creating, in this way, suggestive echoes which become in their turn an unexpected source of fascination.
Keywords: theatre; character; the human condition; individual; society
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