When Six Characters in Search of an Author begins, the stage is being prepared for the daytime rehearsal of a play and several actors and actresses are milling about as the Producer enters and gets the rehearsal started. Suddenly the guard at the stage door enters and informs the Producer that six people have entered the theatre asking to see the person in charge. These six “characters” are a Father, a Mother, a 22-year-old Son, a Stepdaughter, an adolescent Boy, and young female Child. These “characters” claim that they are the incomplete creations of an author who couldn’t finish the work for which they were conceived. They have come looking for someone who will take up their story and embody it in some way, helping them to complete their sense of themselves. The Producer and his fellow company members are initially incredulous, convinced that these “people” have escaped from a mental institution. But the Father, speaking for the other characters, argues that they are just as “real” as the people getting ready to rehearse their play. Fictional characters, he maintains, are more “alive” because they cannot die as long as the works they live in are experienced by others. The Father explains that he and the other “characters” want to achieve their full life by completing the story that now only exists in fragments in the author’s brain. The Stepdaughter and Father begin to tell their “story.” The Father was married to the Mother but left her many years ago when she became attracted to a young assistant or secretary in his employ. Though the Father was angered by his wife’s feelings and sent his young assistant away, he grew impatient with his wife’s melancholy and sent their son away, to be raised and educated in the country. He eventually turned his wife out and she sought her lover, bearing three more children by him before the man died two months before the play begins. These three children and the son from her marriage with the Father stand before the...
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