First performed in 1921 with Romans calling out 'Madhouse!' from the audience, "Six Characters in Search of an Author" has remained the most famous and innovative of Pirandello's plays. Often labeled a satirical tragicomedy, this play initiated the anti-illusionism movement of the early twentieth century, rejecting realism in favor of a more symbolic, dreamlike quality. When an acting company's rehearsal is interrupted by six family members who wish their life story to be enacted, the result is a masterpiece in the exploration of the nature of human personality. Both popular and controversial, this play blurred the lines of reality and illusion in unpredictable ways, ultimately influencing later playwrights like Beckett and Sartre with its bizarre blending of theatrical qualities. Such is the eloquence and depth of Pirandello's body of work that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1934, just two years before his death, an honor worthy of a playwright whose plays had a subtle if profound impact on much of the theatre that would follow.
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