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Sievers, B. (1995). Characters in search of a theatre: organization as theatre for the drama of childhood and the drama at work. Free Associations, 5(2):196-220.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(2):196-220

Characters in search of a theatre: organization as theatre for the drama of childhood and the drama at work

Burkard Sievers

We carry in us a story of terrible anguish.

Luigi Pirandello


The play Six Characters in Search of an Author has not only made Luigi Pirandello famous as a playwright, but has also become one of the most significant innovations in modern theatre. When Pirandello began writing the play, he was just coming out of more than a decade of pure hell: His wife had mentally collapsed under the strain caused by the bankruptcy of the family-owned sulphur mines in Sicily (cf. Sciascia, 1988, pp. 66 ff.), and she was committed to a mental asylum in 1918. Pirandello had been forced into the marriage by his family in order to merge the two parental businesses and did not love his wife (cf. Rauhut, 1964, pp. 50 ff.). What already had been part of the drama of his childhood, that is, his father's greed to build an empire, had thus become part of his own family drama (cf. Bosetti, 1971; Zappi, 1928).

Although Pirandello did not write in an autobiographic style, he occasionally assumes the role of author in his own plays. The destruction of theatrical illusion weakens the dividing line between the theatrical world and that of everyday life.

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