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How Plays Work – Reading and Performance - Oxford Scholarship Online
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How Plays Work: Reading and Performance

Martin Meisel


Why are readers who are generally at home with narrative and discursive prose, and even readily responsive to poetry, far less confident and intuitive when it comes to plays? The complication lies in the twofold character of the play as it exists on the page — as a script or score to be realised, and as literature. This engaging account of how we read play plays on the page shows that the path to the fullest imaginative response is an understanding of how plays work. What is entailed is something like learning a language — vocabulary, grammar, syntax — but learning also how the language operat ... More

Keywords: narrative, discursive prose, poetry, plays, twofold character, script, literature, imaginative response, language learning, coding

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2007 Print ISBN-13: 9780199215492
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215492.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Martin Meisel, author
Brander Matthews Professor Emeritus of Dramatic Literature, Columbia University