Nov 19, 2007
what the left hand does while the right hand sleeps
Check out this Parabasis Hal Brooks interview. I especially liked this section, which I think is the best articulation of this particular playwright dilemma I’ve seen. The main challenge of working with the writer in the room is finding a way to run the room, while knowing that the guy/gal who wrote the play might have the answers - but that you might be the best person for a variety of reasons to answer the questions. I think actors sometimes want to get the answer from the playwright - because he's/she's there. But often times a playwright, having written their work, tapping into their unconscious might not have the actable answer...or they might. It depends. I love it when a writer doesn't know the answer. It makes the whole room freer, I think.. I am often afraid to open my mouth in the room for this reason. I don’t want to say the thing that is true but not useful. And I don’t want to say the thing that is not true and not useful because sometimes I’m not sure what made me write a line 3 years ago. This uncertainty is sometimes what makes people (not Hal) think they can help us write our plays. Because it’s not always easy to translate the subconscious into something everyone can understand. And when you can’t explain something, people sometimes thinks that means that they can do it better. Or that you need help. I think it’s actually a separate skill to try and be able to talk about what you’ve written while keeping safe the things you can’t say and yet keeping your confidence or appearing to keep your confidence while you deal with a question that you’re not sure if you should answer or are unable to answer. Meanwhile, you have to figure out in the rewriting process what things your subconscious put there that have to stay and which of them have to go. Because a lot of this is instinct, other people are often not helpful with this. What they can do is see the play with their eyes and tell you what they see. Which is helpful because you can never see the play with their eyes. It helps if these people are smart and know things about plays. And it helps if your subconscious doesn’t want to kill you. You see how I ruined a perfectly good essaylet with that? That was my fucking subconscious mind getting involved. And you know what? That probably shouldn’t make it to the next draft.