Rock and Rules (Blog Post #8)

You know, man. . .theater and music, they’re all a part of art. And for some reason, everyone always thinks they have to put labels and rules on art. Curiosity is one thing. Trying to explain the world, is one thing. But human beings go too far sometimes, take things to extremes. Trying to tell everyone that one way is always right and another way is all wrong is completely different. These songs playing, for example—they’re all just fun and care-free, they exist for us to enjoy them. But some songs are out to make a point. They’re didactic. They’re trying to tell us how to feel and what to think, what’s right, what’s wrong, and what we should do. And you know, that’s not really a bad thing. But some people take it too far. Take the Italian critics of the Renaissance, for instance. These guys stuck hardcore to their neoclassical ideals. Instead of just trying to understand and explain theater of their time, they wrote down rules and literally attacked productions that didn’t adhere to them. Instead of going out there and making good art themselves, these fat cats sat around and tried to tell others what was good and what wasn’t.

First off, they said all theater should teach a lesson and tell the audience what to think, force-feeding a theme down their throats. They were also obsessed with “verisimilitude” which is just a fancy name for “realism.” And boy, did they get specific. Time was a big deal to them, and they felt that the action of the play couldn’t exceed 24 hours without becoming too unrealistic. Extremists cut that time down to 12 hours, or even 2 hours for the hard-core believers (I guess they would have loved the TV show “24”). They also had some vague rules about keeping the actions within the same “place” but that was open somewhat to interpretation. Stuff could be happening in different areas of the same city, or be restricted to the events happening in one room of one house. Don’t try any of that multiple locations crap though, or you’ll have to watch your back! (What’s this, related events taking place in multiple locations? Look out, we’ve got a bad ass up in here!) They also promoted unity of action, which just means it had to follow one simple plot revolving around the same small group of characters. Yeah, right, because multiple complex things happening to different places and to different people can’t affect each other. Last time I checked, life is complicated.


Works Cited

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre. 6th Edition. New York City: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 151-155. Print.


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