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Director Plays vs. Actor Plays

June 18, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the above classifications, partially because I don’t know which I write; or want to write. My dad said the ideal would be to write a play that is both (thanks dad!) and I said I thought one of the few that really did that is Tony Kushner. This is my kind of my standard answer, if anyone can do it/does it/constant example is Tony Kushner. But lets rewind a bit to talk about how I got here and what I mean when I say director play and actor play.

I am beginning the second draft of Offal (my play about a cannibal chef, ESPA Drills Semi-finalist!, stay tuned!) and that led to a period of play reading as well as rereading. I read The Museum Play by Jordan Harrison, an author whose work I love and admire, and I started to think about theme. Theme. something that I used to snicker at in AP English. Thinking that there was no way that F. Scott Fitzgerald sat around feeling as pleased with himself for all of his allusions to green as my teacher was for finding them. But Jordan Harrison wallows in theme in this play, and it really shouted to me for my rewrites. This is my first play with an abstract, cannibalization, that can really be explored in the way Jordan delves into what it is work/see/live in a museum. Something he does with deepening resonance and beauty throughout.

But the thing is is the scenes are never going to show up in an acting class. They’re too short, too visual, too poetic for that. But my friend and former director Dylan Levers would have a field day with Jordan’s stage directions. And so I got to thinking about what it means to write for a director vs. writing for actor, and I don’t have an answer as to which I like better. But, I spent the past two years writing two person one-acts to work on my dialogue skills, trying to push my self to make ten pages, fifteen, real twisting reversal filled scenes that I hoped an actor would love. And that’s what I did with this first draft and now my rewrite is going to be going in and bringing a visual world for these scenes to hang on. That and dive headfirst into my themes.

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