PLAYS & POLITICS
I watched an enlightening interview between actress Kathleen Turner and playwright Edward Albee on PBS's "In The Life". They discussed the commerce of writing for the theater. Mr. Albee (author of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" and many other plays) said today's playwrights have to struggle to get produced. That often a producer will ask a playwright to have a reading of his/her work and then advise that writer to put in more laughs, or shorten the play by thirty minutes (so people get home at a decent hour in NYC), and other intrusive suggestions. So I guess what I said in my previous post about playwrights being respected and their work being sacred may not be so anymore. It's all about money. Maybe it always was? Broadway is about appealing to the tourists in Times Square and plays without a catchy tune or star fall by the wayside.
That's why lately I'm going to see obscure and not so obscure plays on Broadway and not just musicals with big, flashy budgets. It's important to go to readings and see small productions too.
I know it's hard for out-0f-towners to resist seeing "Rent" or "Spring Awakenin" or "Grease", but if you can squeeze in a play -- it's worth it.
Kathleen Turner just directed "Crimes from the Heart" which is now playing on Off-Broadway. I plan to see that next. She does the announcement before the play to "silence your cell phones" and I hear that's worth the price of admission alone.
Gotta love a woman with a voice that sounds lived in.
Monday, April 07, 2008
I'm working on a play. My first. I took playwriting in college and remember doing pretty well. It was so much fun to cast my scenes and watch/listen to classmates perform my "work". I can see why actors and playwrights get hooked on live theater -- that rush of being in front of an audience, experiencing emotions together, breathing the same air as actors. And the best thing -- in theater unlike MOVIES -- the writer is respected and his work sacred.
I've been meaning to write this story before, but was thinking of it in screenwriting form. I realized its rawness would be better suited for the stage. Also I'm seeing a lot of plays on Broadway lately and they sparked something. I just saw "The Homecoming" starring Ian McShane from "Deadwood" fame. Superb. "Spring Awakening" which has a powerful book as well as great music.
How is playwriting different than screenwriting? I love that you can concentrate on the structure and plot, but you can also let scenes breathe and write longer dialogue -- it's not so constraining, like screenplay formats and page counts. You can tell your story and not just show. It's verbal not only visual. It's a nice change of pace. Some of the best gossip or stories that people share with you in real life is SPOKEN not just ACTED out. People like to tell you details. I miss that sometimes in screenwriting. No time for the details. Just cut to the chase.
So I suggest we all read a good play. Try DOUBT written by John Patrick Shanley ("Moonstruck"). It won the TONY for a reason. And tell me if you think the priest was guilty or not at the end of it.