It’s a hundred years since the infamous premiere of Luigi Pirandello’s experimental play Six Characters in Search of an Author, when an enraged Rome theatre audience yelled abuse at the Italian playwright and chased him out of the theatre. Since then, the play has gained iconic status as a piece of theatre which helped move Western culture into modernity. But what of the author of this play? He was a complex figure who found inspiration from his wife’s madness as well as the actors he worked with, and he formed an unlikely association with the Italian Fascist Prime Minister Benito Mussolini which still intrigues theatre critics and academics to this day.
Joining Rajan Datar to discuss Luigi Pirandello and his work are Guido Bonsaver, Professor in Italian Cultural history at the University of Oxford; Dr Enza de Francisci, lecturer in Translation studies at the University of Glasgow, who specialises in Pirandello’s Sicilian identity and his portrayal of women, and is the author of A 'New' Woman in Verga and Pirandello: From Page to Stage; and Patricia Gaborik, who teaches theatre history at the University of Calabria in Italy, and has studied Pirandello’s relationship with the Italian Fascist leader Mussolini and is the author of Mussolini’s Theatre: Fascist Experiments in Art and Politics.
The readings were by Marco Gambino.
Produced by Anne Khazam for the BBC World Service.
(Image: A scene from a production of Pirandello's play, Six Characters in Search of an Author, staged by French theatre director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota at the Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre. Credit: Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)