Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lasting Largess 5/12/09

I love to lose myself in other men's minds.

Charles Lamb
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Welcome to my dungeon.
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I was in a playwriting workshop where the teacher gave us some very interesting exercises. One of them I won't forget. It was very revealing about how important the authors are to the play. He assigned several students the task of each writing a one act play using the same characters and the same plot.

When the plays were finished they were read in the class. It was amazing to hear how diverse the plays the three different students had made out of the exercise. At a another time he assigned just four characters and no plot line. The result was even more amazing. The story had to come out of only the relationships among the characters.

I already respected playwrights, but those exercises gave me a greater respect for them. When working on a script I would now ponder why the author chose that particular way to reveal the plot line and why he chose those special words to express those special characters and tell the story.

I once heard a lecture from a playwright who said "A playwright is one who if she changes a single line it is a major rewriting of the play." I learned to understand that. Compared to prose, a play is a very sparsely written thing and every word has an important meaning to it because there is no chance for the playwright to explain or elaborate. There is no going into great details as a novelist can. Everything is said with dialogue and action. For the actor it's crucial to understand why the author has chosen that particular word or group of words from the universe of words available. And it explains why most playwrights are very upset when an actor doesn't stick to the script.

I carried this alertness to words and phrases over into reading other types of literature: fiction and philosophy. As a writer now myself I know how one can ponder over the choice of a word or phrase to make sure the reference is clear and to the author's point. To appreciate this pondering by other writers means that I can think with them as they work their way through a description. And I can truly get lost in the author's mind.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
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May you have a springtime blessing today.
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6 comments:

Beth said...

I think that different perspectives have shown up even in your storylines, D. There are some of us who have a "darker" bent, love horror fiction or scifi, who tend to think that something very bad is going to happen! I have to laugh at myself that I automatically think of the worst case scenario! Hugs, Beth

Linda S. Socha said...

DB
I like your ability to relate and to immerse yourself in whatever situation presents...I guess these are partially the qualities that led you to acting
Linda

Big Mark 243 said...

Make me wonder what I would do with writing, if I found some guidance.

Even in my own horribly written journal, there are certain words chosen to convey a mood.

Gerry said...

Writing a play about characters from real life is a huge challenge. I would try to remember significant things they had said that caused me to think they were characters worth writing about in the first place. And when they were funny or very affecting I tried to remember the remarks verbatim, and it is amazing how many extraneous unnecessary phrases we write and which must be fine tuned out. Raymond taught playwriting and gave me some great insight into good dialogue writing since I tended to be verbose. For example always start with the strong statement and always cut any weaker phrase that follows in the same sentence. I am seeing a few of those in the Prince from Saturn script that need to be cut. Takes a lot of going over to get dialogue that carries the action forward with each speech. Oh play writing is an art, but a very enjoyable one. I love revising, really making the repartee sparkle or delight. Gerry

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Imagine the scene if all those one act plays were put together as a production. All caos would break out.

Janice said...

I visit but don't always leave a comment...today I will, although it's relevent to nothing that is written, a writer I am not.
Home Made Cookies:
--One roll chilled prepacked chocolate chip cookie dough
--One Package Mini bite sized Snickers bars

Unwrap the little snickers bars

Slice the cookie dough

Wrap the one slice of the dough around one of the little snickers bars

Place on a cookie sheet and bake per directions on the cookie dough package.

Enjoy two cookies with a big glass of cold milk.

Have a sweet day