‘Proposition’: To reconsider the non-singing character and the songless moment | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1750-3159
  • E-ISSN: 1750-3167


An inherently musical form, musical theatre illuminates key dramatic moments as music rises up and characters gain expression through song. It has been argued that characters denied access to this fundamental form of expression are dramatically inferior to their singing counterparts. The purpose of this article is to reconsider the dramatic function of the non-singing or songless character. Viewed through the Nietzschian concepts of the objective and the subjective, derived from his understanding of the Apollonian and the Dionysian, non-singing characters fulfil a specific dramatic need. It is my contention that songless characters maintain an awareness of the dramatic stakes and therefore do not succumb to the subjective space of song. A variety of cases considered by scholars who have contemplated the issue of the non-singing character will be introduced, then reconsidered through a Nietzschian lens, demonstrating the dramatic implications of this objective repositioning.


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