A Man of All Seasons
As I began to read A Man for All Seasons, I noticed that this is the first time we really are reading a story. While we have been reading plays all semester long, I’ve felt like our previous readings have really only been to teach a lesson. I mean, many of the supporting characters in last week’s readings were not people but feelings or abstract ideas. Now, we have dialogue between actual people. And while this play is told for its religious themes, we now actually have a story that goes a long with it, which definitely makes it easier to read.
Another progression I’ve noticed are some theatrical tactics that are still in use today. Bolt uses the character of Common Man to act as a narrator. However, the Common Man breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience. I’ve always enjoyed plays, films, and television shows that use this tactic. I think it brings a great deal of humor to a production. It also captures the attention of the audience and holds it throughout the show. For example, the play starts out with the Common man conversing with the audience. He goes as far as to tell the audience that he wishes he could’ve come on stage naked; that he would’ve shown the audience something that words could not convey. Although he is a character in the play, he pokes fun at the playwright:
“And an intellectual would have shown enough majestic meanings, colored propositions, and closely woven liturgical stuff to dress the House of the Lords. But this!” (p. 3)
I think the Common Man is a very important character in this play. I feel like in our past readings, when a certain character is meant to represent all of humanity, that person is a sinner. A character we are supposed to dislike and look down upon. However, the Common Man is just a normal man. I think this represents the progression of Christianity. In our readings that took place earlier on in Christianity, I felt like narrators were portrayed as sinners, not humans. But we have now reached the point in Christianity where people can be just people. They are no longer defined by their sins.
Bolt wrote the play in historical fiction, which has always been a genre that has fascinated me. I think it is so interesting how writers can get into the heads of historical figures and create rich stories about them. This is actually the easiest and most enjoyable way for me to read religious literature.
The first thing that struck me about Luther was the stage directions. Oh, the stage directions. There were certain pages where there were more stage directions than dialogue. That made the play very hard to follow. The first twenty pages or so also felt like I was reading twenty pages of characters praying, on top of all the stage directions. Needless to say, I had a tricky time getting through this play. I think reading about characters praying is pointless for readers. It in no way has the same affect as participating in prayer.
Needless to say, I enjoyed A Man of For All Seasons more than Luther. I think this particular piece showed a more significant maturation of Christianity than Luther did.