Thursday, March 17, 2005

Don't Rush Shit

So my most recent play, I Am Alpha, closed last month after a two weekend run. Overall I was pretty happy with it. I would've liked it to run a bit longer, and I would have liked more people to see it, but as far as the play itself, I was very pleased. Years ago, after I'd gotten the idea that I wanted to be a playwright, but before I'd ever actually gotten any of my stuff onto a stage, I had all these ideals about how the playwright's vision was the most important thing and that the play should strive for that vision. Then later on I softened up a bit and thought, well, maybe only on the first production of a play should the playwright's vision be followed so stringently, and after that the world could do with the text whatever they wanted. I don't think either one of those things anymore. The fact is, a playwright's vision isn't worth shit if he can't effectively communicate it in the script. The way I see it, a playwright's job is essentially to take the story that they have in their head and make it into the blueprints for a theatrical event. If the vision doesn't get in there, then forget it. When I hand over a script and call it finished, my hope is that I have made clear the entirety of my vision within those pages. My other hope is that I have created something that inspires rather than dictates. I don't want the people involved with staging one of my scripts to feel hampered because the text says every little thing has to be a certain way. When I first started writing plays, damn near every line had a direction for how the line should be said. Sarcastically. Timidly. Hopelessly. Lustily. Fuck!

So now that this play is over, I'm looking for the next one. I go through this every time I finish writing something, the "what next" phase where I examine everything and everyone around me for dramatic possibilities, and none of it holds my interest for even a second, and then I wonder if maybe that's it, I've had my last original idea ever and I'm all through, then I remind myself that I go through this every time I finish writing something, then I feel better, then I forget, etc. etc. I guess if there's an upside to not being a professional playwright, it's that I don't have to force a script out before I'm ready to. I try to write when I'm in one of these funks and the work is just...yeah, it's the stuff you do so that you keep writing, but little if any of it ever sees the light of day. I've gotten to where I can recognize it in other people's when you listen to a band's second or third album and it's okay but it doesn't have the elusively brilliant quality that made you fall in love with them at first...or an author's latest novel that's just sort of "eh." I mean really, why sit down to take the crap if you don't have a really good one ready to drop? Is it really worth it?

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