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Synopsis of Chapter 2 From “Theatre, Brief Edition” by Robert Cohen

Cohen (2005) has examined the ethos of the play or the drama as it is commonly called. The second chapter of the book examines the concept of theatre as a medium of expression. The author suggests that Theatre is an art whose essence defies definition. It probes the symbiotic relationship between play script and performance. To move a play script to the stage, its production team considers staging from a broad spectrum of possibilities, ranging from a conventional to a radical approach. Though an unconventional staging of an author’s script may please some audiences, a sanctified rather than radical and elastic approach to text may be the preference of traditional respecters of drama In this chapter, the author has suggested that some viewers of innovative staging adapted to modern sensibilities would prefer reading a play rather than watching its temporal manifestations from a theatre seat. He describes the theatre as the journey of a page to the stage is as touchy to audiences as to the playwright, producer, director, designers, and actors who make up our theatre teams.

Cohen has attempted to examine and analyze various entities that make up the play. He describes entities such as the theatre director, the producer, set designer, and the various actors. Cohen has spoken of the challenges that the teams face when they have to represent a text from a play into depictions of humans and their interactions with each other and stress and change accompany the molding and reworking of the script. Cohen has argued that a play script requires a full envisioning of the script because the pages of the play hold both explicit and implicit clues to how the work should be performed. The entire drama team will need to imagine what the dramatist’s script might look like in performance, projecting in the mind’s eye an image of the setting, the props, the movements, gestures, facial expressions, and vocal intonations of the characters. These efforts at interpreting the text for the stage begin as soon as a producer takes an option on a writer’s script then signs and secures financial backers for the project.

Cohen has described at length the interactions between various entities that are involved in the activities of the theatre and he argues that for a theatre to be successful, there should be full integrations between all of them. The integration becomes very important in dramas with functional and conceptual adjustments in a multi-layered, stylized work where tragedy, ethos, and angst are to be demonstrated. Cohen again suggests that it is the duty of the playwright and the director who have to get the actors to bring out the correct expression. He suggests that while a drama is open to interpretations when it is adapted, there should be some latitude up to which the interpretations can diverge and too much of a variation can cause the play to lose focus.

Speaking at length about the role of a playwright, Cohen suggests that the playwright may seem to be a singularly independent artist who works alone. To preserve his thoughts and visions in language, he picks his own words, chooses his style, and when he is ready, calls his work complete. The play that results is his creation. Cohen has challenged the supposition that artistic accomplishment is exclusively the provenance of individual talent. Cohen suggests that the notion that a playwright begets theatre alone slights the tie between text and staging. The moment a producer espies a script’s potential, the playwright may become a senior member and source of a production team. From that point on, a collaborative effort begins. In the best of life’s scenarios, a director, designers, and actors will approach the script to construe the authorial vision concretely on a stage.

The Chapter gives a well-balanced idea of the various entities that make up the play and Cohen has examined in detail the work that each entity does to make a play successful.


Cohen Robert. (2005). Theatre, Brief Version. McGraw-Hill Publications.