Sunday, April 12, 2015

Morality vs. Mystery Plays (Miller vs. Williams)

One of the recent books I read was 100 Essays I Don't Have Time To Write by playwright Sarah Ruhl.

I enjoyed many of these short essays - about writing plays, acting in plays, audiences, parenthood, and so on.

One of the observations Ruhl made was that American playwrights tend to fall into two school -- that of Arthur Miller, and that of Tennessee Williams. Miller, she suggests, carries on the tradition of Morality plays - plays with scaffolding, architecture, building to a moral - and Williams tends to be in the tradition of Mystery plays, full of emotion, and poetry, focusing on the moment.

It's an interesting observation - one that resonate with me. I've always preferred the Miller form of drama to the Williams one. My own plays tends to be Milleresque morality plays. Even when I experiment with Dada dramas - which would seem to suggest celebrating the moment in the Williams/Mystery style - there's always an underlying moral message.

Food for thought.

Pax et bonum

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