The play begins with an acting company preparing to rehearse a play, incidentally one of Pirandello's own, Mixing It Up. As the rehearsal is about to begin the play is unexpectedly interrupted by the arrival of six strange people. The Director of the play, furious at the interruption, demands an explanation.
The Father reveals themselves as unfinished characters in search of an author to finish their story. The Director initially believes them to be mad, but as they begin to argue amongst themselves and reveal details of their story he begins to listen. While he isn't an author, the Director agrees to stage their story despite the disbelief amongst the jeering actors.