Who’s More Real – The Character or the Actor Playing the Character – Pirandello Quote

FATHER …On the contrary, I was inviting you to come out of this game [with a warning look at the LEADING LADY]—of art! Art!—which you play here with your actors; and I ask you once again quite seriously: who are you?

DIRECTOR [turning to the ACTORS, astonished and also irritated]. Well, what a bloody nerve! Someone who claims to be a character comes and asks me who I am!

FATHER [dignified, but not overbearing]. A character, sir, may always ask a man who he is. Because a character really has a life of his own, marked by his own traits, which means that he is always ‘someone’. But a man—I’m not talking about you, but about man in general—a man may well be ‘nobody’.

DIRECTOR Maybe. But you’re asking me, me the Director, the boss! Have you got that?

FATHER [almost under his breath, modestly soft-spoken]. It’s a matter of knowing, sir, whether you, as you are now, really see yourself … in the same way, for example, as you see in retrospect what you once were, with all the illusions you then had; with all those things within and around you, as they then seemed—and indeed truly were for you. Well, sir, when you think back on those illusions which you now no longer have, on everything that no longer ‘seems’ what once for you it ‘was’—don’t you feel, not the boards of this stage, but the earth, the earth itself, give way beneath your feet? For you must conclude that in the same way all ‘this’ that you feel now, all your reality of today, as it is, is destined to seem illusion tomorrow.

DIRECTOR [not understanding much and stunned by the specious argument]. So what? What are you trying to prove?

FATHER. Oh, nothing, sir. Only to make you see that if we [indicating himself and the other CHARACTERS] have no reality beyond the illusion, then maybe you also shouldn’t count too much on your own reality, this reality which you breathe and touch in yourself today, because—like yesterday’s—inevitably, it must reveal itself as illusion tomorrow.

Six Characters in Search of an Author
Luigi Pirandello