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 Posted: Sat Oct 4th, 2008 04:05 pm
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Edd
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 (A while ago a friend who was thinking about writing a play wrote and asked me what the best book to read on playwriting was.  I had no idea. This was my response.)


As published in the Nov. '08 issue of "The Loop"

* * * * * *

ON THE ART OF PLAYWRITING

There is absolutely no book I could recommend on “how to write a play” since I do not believe in an academic approach to playwriting.  In fact, I'm rather hostile to the idea of approaching any Art academically.  If it is your fate, it is all there inside you waiting for the passion to release it—the inspiration, the talent, the desire to channel your Muse.  One can unfold those petals into the playwright's mindset by reading the plays of the best of us.

We learn very little in this life from those outside ourselves other than statistical facts--an astonishing assertion, but one in which I believe.  Those outside ourselves confirm what we already know.  I also believe that when we hear that bell ringing confirmation, we learn from within.  Everyone who has ever touched me within has influenced my work.

Read lots and lots and lots of plays until you discover the technique of what holds them together, what makes them work, how a character is developed from the inside out, how to hear the truth and the singularity of each character’s voice.  Most importantly, after you have read those lots and lots and lots of plays, forget about them!  Find your own voice.  Write what you would like to see, what you would pay to see.  How?  Listen to the rhythm and the underlying subtext of the words of those with whom you come into contact, and simply those you overhear and are not a party to.
 

When you begin to write, listen very carefully as your characters develop.  Do not gloss over any false notes or doubts you may feel. Rethink and rethink until it seems  natural to your ear.  Allow the characters to grow and inhabit your story.  Often they will guide you through the maze of your story with twist and turns you hadn’t foreseen, thus going a long way to eliminate the “predictable” factor.  Don't force words or ideas into their mouths!  Don't speak for them, push them or get in their way.  Trust them.  Trust your own sense of honesty.

Now begin.  Begin with a steady diet of play reading. Again, read lots and lots and lots of plays.  Soon you'll instinctively be driven to the plays and the playwrights that will speak to you deeply and inspire and touch and spark the fuel with which we create—Passion.


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