Posts Tagged ‘state funded entertainment’

“A tragic poet had his play put up before the boards. He watched a tragic actor who was required to wear thick shoes and tall wigs. Since it was his play and knew the effect he wanted from him he explained his entry called for a subtle approach. The much harried actor said when he came in such thick shoes it was a wonder he did not fall over. “So I need a cane to support myself. How much more subtlety you intend to put into my cane?”
Another time a comic actor who did not impress his audience with his witticisms asked the public, “You get two obols worth of seat, free from the city. The least you could do is show some appreciation of that?”
Dramatists of yore wrote as they often said, as inspired by gods. The audience lapped it up and said they were enlightened and taken to a higher sphere as a result. Aesop was shrewd to note how the relationship between the writer and his audience went a shift over the years. It was progress that Aesop thought as natural. The audience became enlightened with so many plays that they attended in civic pride and it made them arbiters as well. Gradually it was the taste of man on the street that decided the kind of plays that were to be staged. Not the poet, not the muse but the uncouth rabble set the trend. It was the masses that in the end beat the system.” (selected-Ch.11.6 pp.203)
Here we see two principles at work. Mass education enabled them to understand the nuances of the play and consequently judge the dramatists as their peers. Inversion principle gave the masses the power to determine what kind of plays they wanted to see. Dramatists had to write plays to cater to their tastes or go out of fashion. Public taste was not inspired by gods but by social realities of the day. Conjugation principle gave their taste its vitality and not from exalted imagination of dramatists.

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