“The Play’s the Thing”: A Polemic


Though other literary forms wax and wane, the novel, short story, diary, epic and such forever suffering favor or oblivion at the hands of the reading public, plays, it seems, are always out of fashion; unread by all but the very few, those generally drama students, sui generis, indefatigable by definition. It is possible to account for this lack of readerly interest by holding, as many have, that plays are not primarily literary objects at all and thus cannot exert the kind of imaginative claims that inhere naturally in real literature; but this argument simply cedes the point to those who would discredit dramatic literature in any case. It is perhaps more promising to grant the legitimacy of plays as literature, by fiat, and turn the inquiry to our reading practices themselves; to determine whether there is something inherent in the way in which we read, think about, talk about and teach drama that causes our powers and imagination to falter at the point at which we approach the individual play. If this is so, the layman’s lack of affinity for the form should come as no surprise.


'The Play's the Thing': A Polemic, by Colette Brooks
Performing Arts Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2/3, 10th Anniversary Issue: The American Theatre Condition (1985), pp. 160-162