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 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2008 07:24 pm
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Sircmichaels
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Mana: 
Okay, so I don't know how many of you have directing experience (outside of your own work, if you've directed that), but I have quite a bit. I've directed musicals, straight plays, comedies, dramas, for blue haired old ladies, college kids, bikers, punks, you name it and I very well may have done it.

I am now AD at a wee thing of a theatre in TX. We are hosting a playwrights festival. I am one of the people deciding on what plays get in.

As a director there are things I look for and things I hate. I thought "I would love to be able to tell these guys not to do this when they submit crap!" and suddenly it occurred to me to vent here and maybe someone can take something away from my irritation.

Please do not get mad. Nothing I write is an attack on anyone specifically. It is just my preference as a director.

1. Overlong character descriptions. ARGH! Why do people feel it is necessary to jam every bit of backstory they can into a character description? Or better yet, tell me what a character's hair is going to look like or how he/she might walk. Unless it is important (and I mean important) to the script, SPARE ME! It is bad enough having to take the time to read scripts I might not like, don't inundate me with stuff that - as a director - I don't care about, will ignore, and in the end find an intrusion on my territory?

2. Stage directions. I cringe when I open a script and it has something like "Mother enters SL". WHAT? *rips hair out* If I want 'mother' to have her silly arse toted in on a line like Mary Martin in Peter Pan I will. Please please please just write "mother enters". As a director I can figure out where it would best serve the story for her to enter. I mean, by all means write "mother enters through front door" or somesuch if you wish, but leave the stage directions to the director!

3. Overlong scene descriptions. This is an offshoot of #'s 1 and 2 above. I love, love, looove it (is the sarcasm drippy enough?) when I open a script and the story starts - not with activity! - but with nearly a page describing the set. Holy. Crap. Again - just the stuff that is IMPORTANT to the story. The designers will decide if the couch goes SL or SR, and they'll decide what style to set it in! A nice description is something like: "1990's - living room of a condo done in a modern style" or whatever. No need to tell me what prints are on the wall, the color of the rug, and if the couch is to the right or the left of the recliner!

Those three things above are my TOP THREE PET PEEVES as a director. Invariably I will not read much of scripts that contain these unless I know or respect the author, am desperate, or am simply feeling generous. If you do any of the three above, please take what I am writing with a grain of salt.

As a playwright, let me say that I do all of the above all the time. I just trim it all out before sending it off to anyone.

- Sirc

PS. If anyone is offended, I really am sorry. it is not my intention. I am just venting after reading scripts for the past month (not just submitting my own) and getting a headache from seeing a lot of the three things above in the scripts we've been getting.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2008 10:03 pm
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LadyBug
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Mana: 
Considering my recently negative experience with my very first director, it's happy to hear that I DON'T do the three things that annoy you as a director.  

Succinctness is the reason I can't write novels.  I like my fiction short and too the point.
 
It's good to hear about #2, though, because I've often been confused if I should indicate more specific directions.  I find myself writing thing like "Characters#1 comes on the opposite side as Character#2" and wonder if I'm trying too hard.  

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 Posted: Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 11:14 am
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Swann1719
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Mana: 
Dear Sirc du Amarillo,

 

I loved that post - that is great.  I wish more directors would say that.   Good constructive use of your bitterness.  Thanks!

 

Swann

 

PS I was hoping for a more general list of things you hated, for instance I really hate stepping on spilled water while wearing socks.  I hate it that servers in restaurants in the uK are always always slow unless they can't serve you because they are full or won't take children in which case they leap to you with a big smile and boundless joy to deliver the news.  I hate to see people eating mindlessly and looking unhappy at the same time, particularly in McDonalds. I hate the sight of George Bush and the blood for oil exchange that is the war in Iraq.  I hate in myself the endless stream of criticism that I unleash in my own head about my own work and the way it cripples me.  I hate broccoli that has been boiled to mush.  I hate arrogant doctors who don't listen.  I hate it when people pathologize all my emotions because i have bipolar disorder.  I hate wracking coughs.  I hate smugness.  Last night I experimented on a side dish of kale, garlic, chorizo and cranberries and my husband really hated it.  Know your hate, baby, that's what I say . . .

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 Posted: Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 02:08 pm
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EJT
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Mana: 
I have to admit, I did a lot of those things when I first started.  Still do to an extent, but I've gotten much better.  I know for a fact my first play explained a lot about the main characters in the character synopsis (although very little about the supporting ones), I pointed out exactly where everything was onstage, and I had characters entering and exiting in specific places.

These days, I try to write as little as possible in the character descriptions while still giving all the important information.  I'll list the furniture onstage, but won't say where it is (although sometimes I'll say two things are next to or near each other).  And, like LadyBug, I do still say "Person 1 exits opposite from Person 2."  But only if it's important that they go different directions.  And I never specify Stage Left or Stage Right.  (The only exception to this is in The Scottish Play, where one of the characters is a director telling an actor where to go.  But that's in the dialogue, not the stage directions.  And I tried not to do that much)

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 Posted: Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 08:33 pm
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timmy
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Mana: 
Knowing Your Hate

dragging the night
while the moon laughs

pacing in deep grief
like wolves

no thoughts of harm
when the radio clicks

sitting in front of a piano
with no hands

the new cafe
all bright lights & yellow stools

semi-circles of customers,
counting by threes

blue suits,
dying from a habit

aching without explanation,
no one noticing

wanting to write theatre:
instead, stewing in onions

Last edited on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 08:36 pm by timmy

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 Posted: Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 12:58 am
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Swann1719
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Mana: 
Yeah!  Tim's hate was more smouldering and had no wet socks, but I liked it.

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 Posted: Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 01:46 am
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Luana Krause
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Mana: 
Sir Michaels:

Thanks for sharing your director's peeves. It's good to know what kinds of things to avoid when submitting our scripts. I've read several articles by directors and they mention the same things.

As for me, I'm a minimalist...I may lean too far the other way and not give enough information. Working on balance.

Luana

 

 

 

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