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Indeed, Williams’s stage directions in the original script of called for decidedly plastic elements, including dozens of slide projections, film-like soundtrack music, and dissolving and fading lighting (none of which made it to the stage under Eddie Dowling’s direction).
NORA: Ow, but there was a space with nothing on it, I didn’t move anything, not a thing, not an inch!
LOUISE: The spaces on the table are just as important as the articles on the table. NORA: I’ve seen your pitcher of ice tea on the table and glasses for it.
Its sensuous symbol also embraces sound patterns: words, music, and aural effects” (Boxill 23-34; Jackson 99-100).
A more extensive discussion of plastic theatre in the critical literature is from Alice Griffin, but even she does not go beyond explaining, To express his universal truths Williams created what he termed plastic theater, a distinctive new style of drama.
In a letter to Eric Bentley, for instance, Williams chastises the critic for a lack of respect for the extra-verbal or non-literary elements of the theatre, the various plastic elements, the purely visual things such as light and movement and color and design, which play, for example, such a tremendously important part in theatre . I have read criticism in which the use of transparencies and music and subtle lighting effects, which are often as meaningful as pages of dialogue, were dismissed as “cheap tricks and devices.” Actually all of these plastic things are as valid instruments of expression in the theatre as words . Williams speaks in the journal entry of the lack of realism in the innovative form and asserts that it would not serve the traditional Broadway play.
He describes stylized, dance-like movement and stresses simplicity and restraint in acting and design and all the elements of the staging. Bray cites Williams’s own journal, in which the writer had described minimalist balletic movement for the actors (Bray ix; see also Leverich 446). In its simplest terms, then, a plastic theatre is a note. Because of its considerable delicate or tenuous material, atmospheric touches and subtleties of direction play a particularly important part. It is unlikely that Williams ever saw this parallel use of his term. Expressionism and all other unconventional techniques in drama have only one valid aim, and that is a closer approach to truth. (The essay refers to a series of dances, Balli Plastici [plastic dances], designed in 1918 by Fortunato Depero, a Futurist painter, sculptor, and designer. Eddie Dowling was, of course, far more than a mere director; he was a producer, actor, playwright, and songwriter. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. LOUISE: The vacant spaces are called plastic space. LOUISE: The spaces between the objects, as you call them, are important parts of the total composition. LOUISE: What would a painting be without spaces between the objects being painted? In the second decade of the twentieth century, the Washington Square Players were devoted to the New Stagecraft of the European theatre.LOUISE: The pitcher of ice tea and the glasses for it are part of the composition. LOUISE: In painting there’s such a things as plastic space. In 1944, he became co-director (with Margo Jones), co-producer (with Louis J. German Composer Hanns Eisler was, among other collaborations, known for his work with Bertolt Brecht; his atonal music recalls that of his teacher, Arnold Schönberg. Roudané and Allean Hale, both of whom include it in more general discussions (Roudané 10; Hale 24). ,” ultimately says no more about the concept than, “The purpose of this ‘plastic theatre,’ of which lighting, music, set, and props are essential elements, is to provide ‘a more penetrating and vivid expression of things as they are’ than mere realism can accomplish”little more than a restatement of Williams’s own declaration in the , which he edited.