Six Characters in Search of an Author

By Luigi Pirandello, Eric Bentley

15,211 ratings - 3.85* vote

Robert Brustein's highly acclaimed adaption of Pirandello's masterpiece, a study in illusion and reality which follows a group of characters who try to fashion their life stories into acceptable drama. Plays for Performance Series. Robert Brustein's highly acclaimed adaption of Pirandello's masterpiece, a study in illusion and reality which follows a group of characters who try to fashion their life stories into acceptable drama. Plays for Performance Series.

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Book details

Hardcover, 0 pages
January 1st 1998 by Turtleback Books

(first published March 9th 1921)

Original Title
Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore
0606209174 (ISBN13: 9780606209175)
Edition Language

Community Reviews


"When a character is born, he acquires at once such an independence, even of his own author, that he can be imagined by everybody even in many other situations where the author never dreamed of placing him; and so he acquires for himself a meaning which the author never thought of giving him."

This is true for almost all of my favourite books. I often disagree with the initial thoughts the authors had when they created their stories, as I form my own distinctive ideas about the characters while reading, and I am not willing to give them up to suit the "accuracy" of literary studies - a field I gave up after university in order to keep my passion for reading.

The tension between reader and writer, between interpretation and author's intention, the relationship between parent and child, the break between an individual and the cultural heritage into which he is born, the loneliness of a character trying to find a suitable role in a world that doesn't ask for his performance - the questions raised by Pirandello are as difficult as they are relevant.

I wonder at his genius sometimes. When he wrote his experimental play, did he see all those characters of the future coming to usurp the role of the artist, to search for their own publicity, their own stages, their own words? When he imagined the conflict between the "unrealised characters"and their potential author, did he see something in human beings that was waiting for the technological development that made self-realisation as easy as going to a traditional interview? Via Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram?

All of social media is full of characters who look for an audience for their words, their gestures, their poses, their banality-filled life stories. They don't need to bow to the power of an author anymore to satisfy their need for visibility - all that is required is an increasing number of other characters who are willing to admire the Facebook picture of a morning latte in exchange for a like on the latest holiday snapshot.

The absurdity of our reality is the topic of Pirandello's philosophical play, and he shows the tragic comedy of life as a stage where human beings fight for visibility, taking their ridiculous small matters as seriously as can be, always conscious of the reaction of viewers:

"What is the stage? It's a place, baby, you know, where people play at being serious, a place where they act comedies. We've got to act a comedy now, dead serious."

I am seen, therefore I am. That is our era's credo. And art is in the eye of the beholder - which gives the audience a power which has yet to be put on stage:

"An audience in search of entertaining characters" is the next step - and we have plenty of characters who are willing to step up to play any parts that will get a decent amount of applause!

Ahmad Sharabiani

Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore = Six Characters in Search of an Author, Luigi Pirandello
Six Characters in Search of an Author (Italian: Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore) is an Italian play by Luigi Pirandello, written and first performed in 1921.
An acting company prepares to rehearse the play The Rules of the Game by Luigi Pirandello. As the rehearsal is about to begin, they are unexpectedly interrupted by the arrival of six strange people. The Director of the play, furious at the interruption, demands an explanation. The Father explains that they are unfinished characters in search of an author to finish their story. The Director initially believes them to be mad, but as they begin to argue among themselves and reveal details of their story, he begins to listen. The Father and The Mother had one child together (The Son), but they have separated and Mother has had three children by another man - The Stepdaughter, The Boy and The Child (a girl). The Father attempted to buy sex from The Stepdaughter, claiming he did not recognize her after so many years, but The Stepdaughter is convinced he knew who she was the entire time. The Mother walked in on The Father and The Stepdaughter shortly after The Father's proposal and informs The Stepdaughter that he is her ex-husband; they both express their disgust and outrage. While The Director is not an author, he agrees to load it their story despite disbelief among the jeering actors. After a 20-minute break, The Characters and The Company return to the stage to perform some of the story so far. They begin to perform the scene between The Stepdaughter and The Father in Madame Pace's shop, which the Director decides to call Scene I. The Characters are very particular about the setting, wanting everything to be as realistic as possible. The Director asks The Actors to observe the scene because he intends for them to perform it later. This sparks the first argument between The Director and The Characters over the acting of the play because The Characters had assumed that they would be performing it, seeing as they are The Characters already. The Director continues the play, but The Stepdaughter has more problems with the accuracy of the setting, saying she doesn't recognize the scene. Just as The Director is about to begin the scene once more, he realizes that Madame Pace is not with them. The Actors watch in disbelief as The Father lures her to the stage by hanging their coats and hats on racks, and Madame Pace follows, "attracted by the very articles of her trade".
The scene begins between Madame Pace and The Stepdaughter, with Madame Pace exhorting The Stepdaughter, telling her she must work as a prostitute to save The Mother's job. The Mother protests at having to watch the scene, but she is restrained. After The Father and The Stepdaughter act half of the scene, The Director stops them so that The Actors may perform what they have just done. The Characters break into laughter as The Actors try to imitate them. The Actors continue but The Stepdaughter cannot contain her laughter as The Actors use the wrong tones of voice and gestures. The Father begins another argument with The Director over the realism of The Actors compared to The Characters themselves. The Director allows The Characters to perform the rest of the scene and decides to have the rehearsals later. This time, The Stepdaughter explains the rest of the scene during an argument with The Director over the truth on stage. The scene culminates in an embrace between The Father and The Stepdaughter, which is realistically interrupted by the distressed Mother. The line between reality and acting is blurred as the scene closes with The Director pleased with the first act.
The final act of the play begins in the garden. It is revealed that there was much arguing among the family members as The Father sent for The Mother, The Stepdaughter, The Child, The Boy, and The Son to come back and stay with him. The Son reveals that he hates the family for sending him away and does not consider The Stepdaughter or the others a part of his family. The scene ends with The Child drowning in a fountain, The Boy committing suicide with a revolver, and The Stepdaughter running out of the theater, leaving The Son, The Mother, and The Father on stage. The play ends with The Director confused over whether it was real or not, concluding that in either case he lost a whole day over it.
عنوانها: شش شخصیت در جستجوی نویسنده؛ شش شخصیت در جستجوی مولف؛ شش شخصیت در پی بازی نویس؛ اثر: لوئیجی پیراندللو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز یازدهم ماه ژوئن سال 2000 میلادی
عنوان: شش شخصیت در جستجوی نویسنده : نمایشنامه در دو پرده؛ اثر: لوئیجی پیراندللو؛ مترجم: حسن ملکی؛ تهران، تجربه، 1378، در 127 ص؛ شابک: ایکس - 964648171؛ چاپ دوم 1380؛ موضوع: نمایشنامه های نویسندگان ایتالیایی - سده 20 م
عنوان: شش شخصیت در جستجوی مولف (نمایشنامه)؛ اثر: لوئیجی پیراندللو؛ مترجم: رضا قیصریه؛ تهران، امیرخانی، 1378، چاپ دیگر: تهران، نیلا، 1390، در 168 ص؛ شابک: 9786001220432؛
عنوان: شش شخصیت در جستجوی نویسنده : نمایشنامه در دو پرده؛ اثر: لوئیجی پیراندللو؛ مترجم: پری صابری؛ تهران، قطره، 1384، در 88 ص؛ شابک: 9643415007؛ چاپ دیگر 1393؛ شابک: 9789643415006؛
عنوان: شش شخصیت در جستجوی نویسنده (نمایشنامه)؛ اثر: لوئیجی پیراندللو؛ مترجم: بهمن فرزانه؛ تهران، پنجره، 1387، در 116 ص؛ شابک: 9789647822442؛ چاپ سوم 1392؛
عنوان: شش شخصیت در پی بازی نویس (نمایشنامه)؛ اثر: لوئیجی پیراندللو؛ مترجم: رضا قیصریه؛ تهران، میلکان، 1394، در 150 ص؛ شابک: 9786007845202؛
کارگردان و بازیگرانش در حال تمرین صحنه های تئاتر روی صحنه هستند، که ناگهان سر و کله ی شش تن پیدا میشوند، و ادعا میکنند: شخصیتهای ذهنی نویسنده ای هستند، که آنها را تا حدود زیادی پدید آورده، ولی نهایتا داستانشان را ننوشته، آنها میخواهند صحنه های زندگی خود را بازی کنند، تا کسی داستانشان را بنویسد، و اجرا کند. شش شخصیت در جستجوی یک نویسنده؛ نمایش‌نامه‌ ای ایتالیایی، اثر: لوئیجی پیراندلو ست؛ که در سال 1921 میلادی نگاشته شده است. این نمایش‌نامه، تئاتری پوچ‌ انگار، و فراتئاتری، درباره ی رابطه ی نویسنده، شخصیت‌های نمایشش، و تمرین‌ کنندگان تئاتر است؛ که در رم، و میان فریادهای تماشاچیان، در اعتراض به روند غیرمنطقی داستان، با کلماتی همچون: دیوانه‌ خانه، در همان سال روی صحنه رفت. پذیرش و عکس‌ العمل تماشاچیان، در اجراهای بعدی، به‌ خصوص پس از ویرایش سوم آن، که در سال 1925 میلادی به چاپ رسید، و در پیشگفتارش، ساختار و ایده‌ های آن روشن شده بود، بهبود یافت. این تئاتر در سال 1922 میلادی نیز برای یکسال در تئاتر برادوی، روی صحنه رفت. نمایش‌نامه از آثار تاثیرگذار جنبش نوگرایی در هنر، به حساب می‌آید.. ا. شربیانی

Riku Sayuj

Six Characters in Search of a Stage

Presents a comic (tragic?) and confusing cast of six enigmatic characters seeking an author who can put them inside a 'book'.

They need this badly, so that they can live where they are born to live -- on the stage, and away from this off-stage world of ordinary people, without 'drama' inborn in them. They stumble on a stage and almost manages to get a director to present their story too.

But in the end their play does not manage to get presented -- because how can their story be truly represented without the 'missing' author? Also, who can play them on-stage? Surely they can't be allowed to play themselves! Thus the 'Drama' never materializes. Instead is presented the comedy of their vain attempts at putting their 'drama' 'out there', because, being mere characters, they need an audience all the time! But there is also the tragedy inherent in the situation -- the six characters have been rejected by their author. the author did not consider them worthy of a presentation, since he did not feel anything meaningful about life can be told through their story?

Now what use is your drama if your author did not think it worthy of 'philosophy'? How can you innovate or derive real meaning in the absence of the divine author?

This intricate play needs to be seen on-stage. I could imagine seeing this play and deriving great enjoyment from the bewilderment of the manager etc., but on the lifeless pages of a book it fails to capture me. Continuously imagining it on stage was too exhausting to maintain. I will be looking forward to an opportunity to catch this on the screen or on the stage.

These characters cannot be experienced fully away from their natural habitat. They are made too precisely.

Other Actors. No, no, it's only make believe, it's only pretence!

The Father [with a terrible cry]. Pretence? Reality, sir, reality!

The Manager. Pretence? Reality? To hell with it all! Never in my life has such a thing happened to me. I 've lost a whole day over these people, a whole day!


I read, or more correctly saw this play performed, in 1968 at the Carleton University Theatre, with a beautiful and intelligent blonde who later dumped me at the uni we subsequently attended, though then at an appropriate distance from me.

The reason? Her recently-chosen new boyfriend was from a rich and connected family.

And as for me, I was bright, but dull to her.

I seemed bright, I say, for I raved to her about this play - but dull at reading her signs and preferences.

Diamonds are some girls’ best friend.

But then I didn’t get her attitude. And SHE couldn’t make sense of this play, and found me odd for doing so.

And some choose higher learning as a fast lane to finding a more eligible bachelor. And, I wonder where is she now?

Dunno, but I have a hunch she probably lacks a meaning to go with all the substance.

The best-laid plans...

Just like these Six Characters.

Now, aren’t we ALL looking for the author of this traumatic saga - this turbulent game -we’re forced to act a part in, like these characters?

After all, what does this game really MEAN?

This an excellent and rewarding play to read. I thought and puzzled about it for hours after I saw it performed. Doncha just wish, like these characters, that you could crack the code of life’s play?

Pirandello’s characters wish that in spades!

Perhaps an author would tell us his answer, perhaps not.

Well, can I give you mine...?

Being a Flower Child, I think the answer is Love.

And that’s my Final Answer, Meredith, for Five Million Happily-Ever-Afters...

And as an Answer it’s all I really need right now, here on Earth -

As must be the opinion of my beautiful onetime friend Diane, right about now.


Recently, casually, a friend mentioned who he thinks I am. It was not at all who I think I am! Among other things, his version of me - inexplicably - is not a Viking. I'm pretty sure he was projecting there, but how would I know? Is there anyone less qualified to interpret me than me?

Pirandello's absurdist 1921 play is about how we create our own realities: how each of us choose to play a character, to such an extent that we sometimes sit outside ourselves, watching our characters act out their scenes. And some part of us sits outside that, watching the watcher, and who knows who lives at the bottom of it all? And it's about the subjective nature of reality: how to each of us, the scenes we live through may be be completely different to each actor in them.

This is what Pirandello's dealing with, at least until Act III when he starts to talk about the writing process and also to wrap up his own plot. It's all very smart, and often funny. My character enjoys it. A character under that thinks it's a little show-offy. A character under that is afraid he didn't get it at all, and a character under that is afraid that his opinion hasn't even been written.


This made for a whimsical and thought provoking “read” by LibriVox audiobook. A family of six wanders into a theater where a director and cast are rehearsing a play by Pirandello (in which they complain “nobody understands anything, and where the author plays the fool with us all”). The Father and Mother (names unspecified) explain they and their children are Characters in the middle of a drama that is in sore need of an author to make it real and bring some resolution to their story. Though the director is not an author, he is captivated enough by their story to believe he could fulfill their needs by having his actors put on a production. He begins to have the family reenact their story and then have the actors try to emulate their performance. After one section the family complains or laughs about the quality and veracity of the actors and argue that they should be the ones used in the production. As they proceed with their attempts at acting out their history, the family reveals such lurid, melodramatic, and tragic elements to their story, the director comes to doubt whether it’s believable and believes he has wasted a whole day of rehearsal.

The play was pretty zany with the cynical director trying to juggle so many balls, the actors getting upstaged, and the sordid pathos of the extremely dysfunctional family leaping off the page through their strident efforts to become realized through a stage performance. Fiction and non-fiction get confused in our minds, and the magic in the roles of director, actor, and script gets undermined by their vivisection that takes place before our eyes. The one element missing is the writer, which I suppose we are supposed to consider as the reason for the director’s conclusion of defeat.

First premiered in 1921, this play was a seminal precursor to the post-war Theater of the Absurd, such as Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” (1952). This play’s full-tilt boogie on the “meta” element of crossovers between authors and their characters also presaged common uses of this device in postmodern works four or more decades later. In particular, his countryman Calvino in the 1979 novel “If on a winter’s night a traveler” makes a related kind of mind-bender with its screwball tale of readers shaping and getting involved with the contents and authors of what they’re reading.

This makes for a short, fun read (or listen) as an introduction to the work of a Pulitzer Prize winner. Though most respected as a playwright, he did write some novels (and volumes of essays and short stories). I look forward to trying his novel “The Late Mattia Pascal” (1904).


Who is Luigi Pirandello?

A twentieth century writer from Sicily.

A Noble Prize winner.

I had never heard of him.

This play, ‘Six characters in search of an Author’ is just great.

Pirandello wrote this apparition, an invention without oxygen, atop Mt. Etna, or so it seems. Like life, it is completely absurd. More cannot be packed into so few pages. I am still shaking my head.

A pinch of tragedy, doses of satire, an undercurrent of philosophy throughout, complex and detailed actors and their exchanges, a slice of psychology, human folly, and life’s randomness.

And to think it lasted only a year and a half, off-Broadway, before it closed because of thinning attendance, not very long ago.

It is significant. Perceptions.

Mi e piaciuto!


I'm finally reading books from the reading list I make every year. That's my New Year's resolution: to read only books from my 2021 shelf. And it worked out just fine until January 2.

Jan 3, 21


They say I was born in June. The day, the year somehow ceases to exist. I live with my mother. She stares at the wall, singing songs unnoticing my existence in the house. Is this how being an orphan feels like? I used to work at Madame Pace’s dress shop. Only it wasn't a dress shop. It was a whore house where I used to entertain clients throughout the night. My mother was unaware of my earnings, but as if it mattered. Then, one day I fell in love. In fact, I fell in love with his eyes. The same brown affectionate eyes that I own. They were so memorable, they were mine. I could see myself in them. My eyes on this strange face, mesmerizing yet daunting. He was my client, elderly yet so affectionate. Months went by, but he never visited me again. I looked for him but no avail. They say, he shot himself out of guilt. He was my biological father. The shame of seducing his own blood ate him up after finding my truth. So, as I lay in a pool of blood, the cold metal burning against my sinful hands, I pierce the sharp edge into the warm blob of flesh. I killed my baby. I killed my brother. I practically cease to exist now. Shame and numbness has weighed my soul into nothingness. The man once my mother had left my father for took her away. So, here I come to you with an unfilled life and an unfinished story pleading you to bring an authored conclusion.

“You imbecile”, yelled the stage-manager. “You expect me to believe this garbage and let my actors perform your absurdity".

“Yes”, I affirm, “The settings should be realistic and the truth should be told in its unaltered form.”

“I am an unrealized character sir”, I humbly say, “I need you to finish my story and bring it to life”.

The stage manager now enraged walks away hurling obscenities and muttering, “Acting is our business here. Truth up to a certain point, but no further”; as he looks at me with a sardonic smile.

Pirandello illuminates the ‘Theatre of Absurd’ genre in this bizarre performance. A form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations and plots that lack realistic or logical development. Purely in its theatrical form he depicts a tale of six characters in search of an author who is able not only to complete their fragmentary story but to perform their ingenuous legitimacy. A story which is not a story after all. Through the numerous arguments between the six characters and the stage manager about portrayal of reality in its unaltered state to the audiences marks the debate of life reality v/s stage reality. The sense of illusion what is illustrated to be a reality on performance stage is far from the factual forms.

The plethora of reality television that demarcates an entire generation outlook mutates the genuineness of its characters. How real are the nuances of these actors who state publicly that their respected shows are not scripted but spontaneous? The movies that state ‘based on a true story’, how far do they enact the truth or is pragmatism edited to normalization of absurdity. Pirandello stresses on the theatre being an illusion of reality where actors masquerade real emotions through rehearsals and mutability.

A brilliant existentialism perception of individuals being characters all through their life portraying roles that they're born into and the normality of emotions attached to their specific roles. Who are we? The roles that we are born into or the tangible roles we want to play.

Jacob Overmark

Stop, wait! It was the Six Characters in Search of an Author!
Well, there actually is a connection. Milo Manara was the reason I first got acquainted with Luigi Pirandello.

Now that I have fought my way through the play a few song lines pops up in my head.
"Wooords doooon´t come eeeasy tooo meee …" & "What´s the fuzz, tell me what is happening?"

I can easily see the chocking effect it had when first performed, even I don´t quite get that the good people of Milan should be so much more open-minded than the citizens of Rome.

As revolting as it is that a young woman should meet her estranged father in “a house of ill reputation”, that the characters without an author are alienated, disconnected and yet full of inner life insisting that said life should be enlarged, I still fail to feel the grandness of the play.
A play within a play, or a meta narrative is what is forming, and the storyline is just not strong enough.

The absurdist experimenting theatre is no stranger to me. I see where we are going, that art for arts sake is not enough for Pirandello – and I see the beginning of method acting. The actor learning from a scrip is a dying race, in from left comes the real human tragedy or drama. The Mimesis of old has now played its part and may retire. But, this is not even close to social realism, even the translator Eric Bentley spend many pages paraphrasing it as such.

It is an interesting take on family tragedies from a man who was alienated from his own family in so many ways that it is hard not to call out to Freud to clear things up.

However significant it was in the 1920´es it regrettably leaves me lukewarm today.