The messenger report is a technical style as well as an aid in drama. This messenger report means the fact that a figure (messenger) informs the actors of the work as well as the spectator about a past event. This event is decisive for the further course of action, but can not be presented on the stage; either because the situation is too complex or contrary to the unity of place, time and action (see below).
Such a messenger report is then used when something is to be shown on the stage, which can not actually be represented. For example, there is a great battle carnage, an enormous natural catastrophe, a brutal execution or a pornographic scenario (see pondoscopy).
However, the form of the report has yet another feature which is responsible for the frequent use in the drama: the messenger report makes it possible to experience an immediate reaction to an event. By delivering the message that has already been done, the stage now allows a direct response from the actors. As a result, simultaneous events can almost be represented.
Characteristics of the messenger report
Overview: The essential characteristics of the messenger report
Messenger reports serve to convey an event that can not be shown directly. This can have different reasons. Either it would be too complicated and would go beyond the framework of a stage, or it would be a violation of the three Aristotelian units, or it would be to show a kind of simultaneity of different events.
Often the report of the messenger is linked to another moment in the drama. By way of example, the peripety (turning point), which can be connected with the anagnorisis (the recognition, the recognition of the actual situation), is initiated by the reported. Furthermore, the messenger report can directly affect the fate of the protagonist.
The form of the messenger report is usually a sort of monologue of the messenger. In some cases, it is also a dialogue. This is usually a question of an interplay of questions and answers. Furthermore, the element is characteristic of a closed drama which is fundamentally oriented to the demands of Aristotelian poetics.
Messenger report and the three Aristotelian units
The three Aristotelian units are fundamental principles or rules to form a drama. They go back to the utterances expressed by Aristotle in his poetics. The point is that time, space and action in the drama should remain uniform. There should therefore be no side-effects, changes in the place or changes in time within the work.
Of course, the act, if strictly follows these guidelines, quickly reaches its limits. For this reason, a lot of tricks and stylistic devices have been devised in order to be able to meet these demands and still be able to refer to secondary or previous events. The messenger report has a very important function. This can bridge the space and also the time part.
The actual trick is, therefore, that the messenger reports of a fact which has taken place in the past and also in another place. Since the messenger acts as an intermediary and the actors are informed at the moment, the Aristotelian units are not broken.
Example of the messenger report
In many dramas such a report is used. These messenger reports, however, can vary greatly. For the sake of illustration, let us look at a selected example.
It is a scene from the Antigone, a tragedy of the Greek poet Sophocles. In the third scene, a messenger comes before Creon, the ruler of Thebes. Prior to this, Kreon had forbidden to bury the Polyneikes, who led the war against the city. Now he learns from the messenger, who tells of the battle, that this has happened. This results in the actual action of tragedy.