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1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Sep 11, 2007

Stalker or Heart Stopper or something unknown

I have a screenplay which has been sitting around since the 30th unread by me. I’m going to have a reading with some actors next Monday. I know it will need some more work. My first draft is always underwritten and I wrote this fairly quickly. Not quickly for a play but quickly for a screenplay…for me. Those screenplays are killers. Now I’m in that in between time where I’m dying to start writing something. (especially because writing the screenplay was work and I want to play with something…like a play now) So I’m itchy, but I don’t have enough information to write a new play yet. I could go work on the novel, but that will be like work too. I could write some short stuff but that feels like a waste of time and energy. In the meantime, I’m reading Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo and am loving it. He’s so good. It makes me want to go back to the novel. If only a novel didn’t take 3 to 4 times longer to write than a play. But really all I want to do is write a new play. Although this will never lead to financial solvency like a novel or a screenplay or a musical might. Maybe I should be writing a musical. I feel in some ways completely free to do whatever I want when I’m writing a play. Because I know so well what a play is and what rules I can break. But maybe I should be thinking how to write the play that a big regional or NY theatre will do. I wonder what that is. Anyway. Back to your usual programming.


JJW said...

i got a little stuck when you said you know so well "what a play is."
i find that odd. and you say, because of that you also know what rules you can break. well, i think that's even more odd.

it makes me think i don't know what a play is. i think i know what plays have been or were or used to be, because other people or myself have written them before. but to think of what a play is implies that it can only be that thing. (isn't the definition of a play always evolving and changing? it's like Buddha!) i guess if i had a formula for writing a play, i might never write another one. it would seem so easy and boring to me. like you, i love to break rules and invent new ones of my own, and i try to continue doing that so that i never fall upon a definition of what plays are.

maybe i'm failing in that respect, but it's that constant drive to reinvent and discover something new that sometimes keeps me writing plays, certainly not the money. sorry if i turned a light point into a manifesto, but alas...


Adam said...

maybe i should say i know what a play can be. or i know what i can do with a play. or i know what i want to do with a play. or i know a lot of different plays and ways for plays to be so i feel comfortable writing plays and therefore feel comfortable flouting the acceptable norms.

as opposed to a screenplay or a novel which are forms i don't know that well so i don't feel like i know how to do something different or know how to try to be innovative.

and as for the money, dude, I just want out of the day job. and am trying to figure out how to do that. I know the next thing I write will be written without thinking thoughts of commerce, but if I want to not get too jaded, eventually I will need to figure out how to make a life out of this or out of something similar to this which will not make me feel like I'm going against my own impulses.

JJW said...

now i feel like a douchebag.

i want out of my dayjob too. when i was little, i insisted i would make millions by inventing anti-gravity bubblegum. i have no idea how to do that obviously.

maybe if every playwright with a dayjob, every artist even, quit and went on strike we could negotiate a deal with the government. it would be chaos to see the country's businesses, offices and banks, attempt to carry on day to day without the workforce that supports them. we do it in the name of art. and then when it doesn't work, we can just move to canada.

Adam said...

don't feel like a douchebag. I didn't express myself well.

"it's that constant drive to reinvent and discover something new that sometimes keeps me writing plays"

This is true for me too. it's not why i just wrote a screenplay though. and it has not thus far helped me break through to the theatres that actually pay well and give you a real nice set and have large audiences. And I guess i want that or i want that so that enough small theatres have heard of my play to want to do them in their small theatres throughout the country.

I want my stuff to be done in more venues and larger venues and i want to not have to do my day job and i wonder if i wrote a different kind of play if i could make this happen somehow. but I'm not sure I know how to write a different kind of play and also get the thrill I get from writing.

I hear canada is nice.

E. Hunter Spreen said...

If you wrote a musical what would you write?

Adam said...

Well, I might turn my cowboy comedy hamlet into a musical. I also might write a full length or possibly a musical based on the 10 min play i wrote for Ars Nova. It might be called Runk.

patrick said...

I know what you mean about feeling comfortable with the play form. It's definitely not the same as writing a novel (they do take forever) (or even a screenplay, as you point out), and I think when you do try out all these mediums, it's not hard to get caught somewhere in this odd limbo between them.

I felt a lot like you about plays, wanting to write some that would have broader appeal, but then I wrote two that ended up not fitting that model at all (though I thought I was at the time).

Some folks might be able to easily write something that fits into a commercial formula. But I feel like most of us just end up having to write that really grabs us, and then we find out later whether it'll be popular.

Obviously there are parameters that we can lay out ahead of time that prevent a work from automatically becoming tough to produce or publish--for plays it doesn't help to write for large casts, for books it's not such a great idea to make them 200,000 words, for screenplays they need to run 90-120 minutes. But in terms of the ultimate content, it seems tough to censor yourself too much.

Maybe, once you've had commercial success, in writing for anything, it becomes easier having gone through the process to understand better what works for broader audiences.

(sorry, I'm running on and on)

Adam said...

I hear that after having a success it is harder to write something new because you are trying to write something like you just wrote and also perhaps trying to not do that. Trying to do something new. I don't know. I'll let you know if it ever happens to me.