Thursday, September 27, 2007

Narrative Vs Theatrical?

Thank you Christopher for the resurrection of NTFD.

I didn't want to hi-jack the working class theater thread, so you should still comment on that one - the thoughts are flying fast and furious. But one thing was lurking around some of the commentary, and I wanted to bring it out.

The point was made by Greg that we need to present something different in the theatrical experience than the audience member can get on television or film. And here I may be reading something that Greg didn't intend - but I saw an implication that narrative was somehow an inferior form. I've gotten into this discussion before, so maybe I'm projecting. But every time someone dismisses narrative as if it is only for the unsophisticated, I get a little irked.

Why this opposition between the theatrical and narrative? Must narrative be wed to realism and television? Isn't telling a damn good story in a theatrical way still possible? Still desirable?

And in a related comment - if we want new audiences for theater, I think we're going to have to bridge the gap. Give people something to hold onto. I'll admit that Funnyhouse of A Negro is a stellar piece of theatrical craftsmanship unlike anything you see on television. But I'm not going to take my father to go see it. He likes a good story - and will spend some of his money earned driving a fork-lift to do so.

21 comments:

David said...

I think I fall in with Aaron in this particular discussion/question -- that theater must somehow be different from TV or movies in order to survive.

While yes, I think theater must offer audiences a compelling reason for getting off of their couches and away from their DVD players, I think we get somewhat carried away with the idea of being "theatrical."

To me -- and I may be simply naive -- the essense of "theatrical" is "live." Theater is not only happening in real time, it is happening right in front of my very nose. There's no 5-second delay for cursing or stumbles or errors, there's no one keeping the actor from hearing my laughter or tears in response to the production. It's immediate and the experience is shared.

And that immediacy exists whether I'm seeing a completely "realistic," naturalistic production or a non-speaking, movement based performance.

Sure, there's spectacle, a la Cirque de Soleil (whose productions, in their once-unique way, still usually try to tell a story). But there's also something incredibly amazing about the straightforward telling of a really, really compelling and intriguing story.

Take Keith Huff's "A Steady Rain," now at Chicago Dramatists. Two men, a basically bare stage, telling a story that kicks ass. Is it "theatrical?" In the sense of bells and whistles, no. Does it make you hold your breath throughout, for both the story being told and for the performances of the two actors? Absolutely.

I recently saw a play with a kick-ass story, one that, in prior readings, was incredibly moving and touching, with performances that made you want to reach out and hold the actors and tell them that it would all be OK. It wasn't manipulative or melodramatic... it was just a really good story, very well told.

Then the director got hold of it. And in order to make it "theatrical," the director did all sorts of crazy things, added all sorts of bells and whistles. The story got muddled and the result was a "meh" evening of theater.

Now, believe me: I love me some spectacle. I'm considering shelling out some cash to see Cymbeline at Chicago Shakes, purely for the spectacle. Ditto for Passion Play at the Goodman. And I love inkblot-test-like theater that forces me to explore my own psyche and come up with my own interpretations. But tell me a really good story, live, in front of my face, and that is, to me, every bit as impressive.

One more example: I can't count the number of my friends, whose preferences lie in the direction of experimental theater (I use that term very broadly, to cover a bunch of non-traditional theater movements) who saw August: Osage County at Steppenwolf, and came back raving about the play. While unanimity frightens me, generally, the response to this very traditionally-told play was positive virtually across the board.

Another difference between TV/movies and theater: Watching the former, I know that I'm getting a sanitized, highly "produced" version of the tale. Outtakes have been deleted (or included on the DVD, just for fun). Special effects have been added to increase the impact of images or language. It's all very buffed and polished. There's no risk.

In the theater... even in a one-person monologue... even with rehearsal, it's all about risk. And if an actor can convince me that s/he is the character s/he's pretending to be, in front of my face, and convince me of the reality of the world s/he's describing and experiencing... well, that's magic.

OK, a long rant, too early in the morning to make any sense. But I, too, find that our dismissal of traditional narrative (a form I practice about half the time, in my own writing) seems a bit misguided. We're searching for answers to possibly diminishing audiences, but in doing so, I think we're also attributing cause/effect relationships (e.g., "theater that is too much like TV will fail") that I don't, personally, think are fully proven.

David said...

OK, one more thing:

When analyzing why audiences choose television over theater, are we looking under the wrong rocks when we focus on the content/presentation?

In other words, rather than focusing solely on the content of theater, and trying to change it to make it "more appealing" or "more different," perhaps we should look more closely at the perceived costs -- real, financial costs -- of attending an evening of theater versus "attending" an evening of television.

Rightly or wrongly, an evening of television (or watching a movie on DVD) is perceived as low-cost, if not altogether free. People tend to ignore the money they've shelled out, in one fell swoop (or by using a credit card), for that hi-def television in the living room, and think to themselves, "Hey, 'Ugly Betty' comes into my living room for free! Sure, I have to deal with commercials, but that gives me a chance to take a bathroom break."

Theater, on the other hand, requires folks to drive their car or take the train, find parking or walk for a bit, hire a babysitter if they have kids, tumble into bed a little later than usual, maybe even spend some money on dinner (if they don't want to eat at home, first). Throw in the often high prices for a ticket, and hell, I'll stay home, too.

So we, as theater artists, try to figure out how we can get bigger, louder, more! And what often happens is that people do get lured out of their homes for an evening of bigger, louder, more ("Wicked," anyone?)... and they find it a bit dull. There's no "there," there, if you will. So, yet again, the audience member trudges home thinking, "I spent all that money and time... for this?"

And that attitude prevails, even when a really compelling piece of theater comes along... people think, I just can't afford the time (money, effort, etc.).

And we, as theater artists, think that we failed because our fireworks weren't as large as the fireworks on the big/small screen.

I don't think that's always true. I think we need to look at our economic models of presenting theater to communities, about whether it makes sense to expect people to travel long distances to big venues and spend a lot of money. We may not be losing the fight because our product is worse... we may be losing the fight because we're not distributing and pricing our work competitively.

Perhaps the answer is more small theaters, and fewer "Broadway in Chicago"-style houses. Theaters in the community, that folks can walk to. Smaller, better productions, not larger shows. And, oh my god, government subsidies that acknowledge the value of art? (I know, I'm dreaming.)

HUGE NOTE: This post of mine, and the one before it, should not be seen as providing an excuse for inferior theater. We should demand the highest quality writing, acting, production, etc., that we can possibly achieve. Mediocrity is also a killer.

Nor am I championing a certain "type" of theater over another. There is room for all in what I still believe is a very big theatrical tent.

But we should be cautious about forcing ourselves into pursuing certain forms of theater, and abandoning other forms, on the basis of half-proven assumptions about why people do and don't come to our shows.

Devilvet said...

I find it fascinating that so many theater folks in the community out there feel it necessary to defend narrative? Chris Jones wrote on. Now David stands up to 'defend' it...Narrative is not only dominant in TV and movies and film...it is the dominant form of expression period among human beings. So, the notion that we need to rush to the defense of narrative or reestablish the value of narrative seems moot to me.

Who are the modern day Alfred Jarry's that are destroying our precious narrative?

That being said, I would state that non-narrative performance or 'experimental' could actually have a negative effect on audience turn out if you merely want butts in the seats. I Love what many call experimental theater and often produce it, but it is a fringe audience, you dont produce it expected butts in the seats unless your in a smaller more intimate setting like a 30-40 seat black box. I also have no problem calling it a refined taste, that is not to say that those who more often frequent it are smarter or what not, but they usually have an awareness or contextually that enables them to enjoy the work that say a working class guy who wouldnt watch a david lynch or fellini film, much less a beckett or sarsh kane play might not have the time, energy, or interest in exposing themselves too.

Aaron Carter said...

I would like to draw a distinction between "defending the value of narrative" from "believing narrative is endagndered."

Let me add some clarity to my original question:

When writing in these forums, and talking over beers, I find that theater artists tend to place narrative and experimentation in opposition. I wonder why that opposition? Are narrative and experimentation mutually exclusive?

I also feel that "narrative" is too often conflated with "kitchen-sink realism."

So, you're right Devilvet. Narrative is a dominant form. Its in no danger of disappearing.

But at the same time, I hear people argue that that dominant form is artistically bankrupt. So yeah, its not going anywhere. But I still feel compelled to defend its artistic viablity when it is implied that narrative is inferior or pablum for the masses or what have you.

David, check out the comments on the previous post for the micromentalists: there's a pricing model for you.

Aaron Carter said...

Devilvet,

I re-read your post. And I think I should acknowledge that defending the value of narrative is a personal reaction, not a save the theater reaction.

In other words, I speak up for the value NOT because I think I have to take some sort of stand and do my part to SAVE THEATER!

But rather because I really like a good story, and I don't want people to think I'm stupid.

Maybe its like admitting you like Gilmore Girls, and then trying to defend it as valid societal commentary.

I dunno - I just want to make sure my "defense" is read on the small scale: I like it, please don't make fun of me.

Devilvet said...

I think it is ok to like narrative.

Further, I believe that we are never not engaging in a conversation about saving theatre.

All of these recetnt posts about the relavance of theater come from a desire to get more people in the theater not becuase it's just a good idea or a personal preference.

I think it iis born out of the notion that there aren;t enough people watching theater. Or there are enough people watching 'our' theater (who ever the our is changes depending on the observation)

The working class arguement is ultimately born out of the notion that theater will die without them, or at the very least will live an anemic unfulling existence without them.

The weight and ponderment of "live" again is about discovering and sculpting self value as theaterical practitoners to better enable ourselves to convince others to go see theatre

It's all about the future of theatre or about the economical stabilty of the artist.One or the other

Or it's about the gilmore girls. Personally , I think they are hot, but I don;t narrative form to appreciate them on that level. Also, i would much rather enjoy their hottness "live"

David said...

I should clarify that the length of my two posts can be more accurately read as a complete inability to explain myself as clearly and as articulately as most people on this blog -- and not as a sign of the vehemence with which I think narrative should be defended (or needs defense).

And it was very early in the morning. I should learn to shut up before noon -- my thinking is muddy, as is my ability to express myself.

True, the posts were in response to Aaron's question, but also in partial response to a recent series of "pushbacks" from fellow playwrights who, when the question of story (or lack thereof) came up, acted dumfounded, as if narrative was a hidebound subject best left to Syd Field screenwriting manuals. That a playwright's job isn't to explore narrative, but to leave that entirely up to the audience. (Which, I think, is as valid a choice as any other -- just not the ony choice.)

And I find it interesting that, as you say, this conversation is coming up at all. Why did Chris Jones feel the need to write on the subject? Why did Aaron? Why do I?

Devilvet, I agree with you about the fact that "story" -- the human tendency to create stories -- is not endangered. It will never be endangered as long as there are humans around, because we're hardwired to create stories, to create explanations from the seemingly random events that occur around us. It is a prime part of our survival mechanism. Way too much time studying clinical psychology has made that quite clear to me.

I don't think narrative is coming under attack. I just think it's often ignored... and just because it's ever-present doesn't mean that it's not something an artist could/should work with.

And that's enough for now... because, as I said, the volume of words I've produced on the subject is probably not a good indicator of how worried I am about the issue. Maybe -- and perhaps like Aaron -- I'm just defending myself.

(And yes, I think the micromentalist model of theater pricing is a step in the right direction... other such good ideas have also been discussed elsewhere on this blog.)

Tony said...

I think there is a difference between narrative storytelling and kitchen sink realism. I think it's dangerous to look at film and tv as theatre's only competition--as opposed to everything someone may do instead of going to theatre.

I don't have a problem with narrative. I love a good story well told. I don't particularly care for small stories, personal taste. I much more moved by big epic stores. I do find it problematic (an well, boring to be honest) when productions strive to recreate a live version of a tv show. If a show does everything possible to be like a free tv show, why should someone plop money down to see it.

I actually think this post is pretty well related to the working class posts. I'd have to disagree with David about looking under the wrong rocks when looking at content. Some stories are better than others and some people are better at telling them--I can get that just from looking at my friends.

No matter how they're told if we ain't telling a good story why should anyone pay for it? If our story ain't better than sitting on the couch (depending on what show /group you're working with.)What's the point of sharing it. That doesn't matter if your working on the line or in a board room.

(of course I've written about my thoughts quite a bit so there's probably no real surprise here.)

David said...

OK, sorry... just one more thing I ran across while trolling blogs this morning (when I should be working):

Back on Sept. 16th, Kris Vire asked questions similar to those we're asking in this thread. Here's the link:

http://storefrontrebellion.typepad.com/blog/2007/09/spectacular-spe.html

This may simply reflect this month's zeitgeist, and perhaps we'll all be on a different topic come October. But the timing is interesting.

David said...

Tony, buried under the mass of one of my early posts was this caveat:

HUGE NOTE: This post of mine, and the one before it, should not be seen as providing an excuse for inferior theater. We should demand the highest quality writing, acting, production, etc., that we can possibly achieve. Mediocrity is also a killer.

It sounds as if we agree on that point; and I agree with you that certain stories -- and certain ways of telling stories -- often lend themselves to different media. And certain storytellers are better than others at working under specific forms.

Now, please don't be insulted, anybody -- I'm not taking my marbles and running... I just really, really need to stop avoiding some work that is under a big deadline. I'll check back later.

Devilvet said...

I echo Tony's point about avoiding small stories.

But at the same time wonder if we have a shared notion as to what are small stories.

For me the biggest small story (huh?) is boy gets girl, boys loses girl, boys wins girl back. Now even if you change the gender of the boy and/or girl...if the genre is situational comedic it is just Ross and Rachel wearing different masks.

Another smallish story is the underdog makes the touchdown sports story.

Another smallish story is the whole "it sucks to work in office but maybe you can find the love of your life"

I dont know, maybe alot of us don't like the small syory versus epic story comparison. What do you guys think?

Devilvet said...

Also, how about some narrative originality?

How many of us out here have had to sit through friends' shows that were gritty retellings or reorderings of Tarratino films, CSI cops shows, or jokes from Simpson and Monty Python episodes?

Maybe there are only so many story types, but what about the different voices...

I believe that we can each have a unique voice. Does that play at all into what we are talking about or notions or folks getting "bored" with typical narrative structure?

Greg McCain said...

I did not intend to imply that narrative was an inferior form of theater, in fact in my book it is the only form of Theater (with a capital T), there are other forms of performance that may utilize multi disciplinary forms, some of which come from traditional theater. The Theater was born of language and storytelling, the cathartic experience happens when a collective comes together and hears/sees/experiences a story told that then reflects the ills of said collective and it is then cleansed of it's ill effects. Tragedy being the Goat Song that is sung as the sacrificial goat is lead from the village to appease the gods.

I think we may have a different understanding of "theatricality" I don't think bells and whistles are theatricality. Theatricality is the ability to tell a story on stage in front of a live audience and through the craft of storytelling, acting et al, a cathartic experience is shared by those who witnessed the proceedings. The bells and whistles are tools used by directors and maybe the playwright to help (sometimes) tell that story, but too often it becomes about the bells and whistles and less about the theatrical craft of storytelling.

Now, I am all for experimenting with the so called traditional forms of narrative, as well as utilizing multi-disciplianary forms. The idea is to find EFFECTIVE means for communicating what it is we playwrights are trying to communicate. Sometimes an experimental form is just that, an experiment, and it does not succeed, but my point in the previous thread was that there is getting to be less and less opportunities for playwrights to experiment because producers are looking for tried and true forms to fill the seats, or they can't see what the playwright is trying to do on the page and how it translates to the stage, but I think this is having a paradoxical effect in that it is losing the audience who get tired of seeing the same old same old.

The old axiom that every story has already been told is true, there is nothing new under the sun. But what is new is MY personal experience with that old story and if I am given the opportunity to write it, rewrite it, play around with it and experiment, maybe, just maybe I will find a unique insight that has eluded humanity up to this point, or I might open up a perspective to another writer who then takes up the mantle and adds her two cents and as it snowballs a new art form/genre/narrative form emerges. And maybe the collective audience gets a new perspective on the ills that have befallen humanity.

Christopher De Paola said...

Alright- I'm responding generally to different questions and/or statements different folks have posed and/or expressed... first of all, I don't think the fact that theatre is "live" makes it theatrical at all. Theatricality is something altogether different- I'll get to that later.

Also, tv and film are derived from theatre- they are the evolution of the art form- it is the natural progression of art reaching its audience. Is it wrong to say that the original (theatre) may not be useful any longer? Maybe?

"A Steady Rain" was not in any shape or form theatrical. Whether you liked it or not doesn't matter. The questions a production like that raises are, "Why am I watching this in a theatre? What makes this experience different from sitting in front of the tv or at a movie? Why does this particular story need to be told within the confines of a stage?" I had no answer- and still do not. I feel that type of play is an attempt to transfer tv/film narrative to the stage. And since it's not possible to do it visually on stage, it's just done by TELLING the audeince what happens, rather than SHOWING the audeince. The audience is therefore cheated by never seeing any action on stage. There is DEFINITELY no reason for an audience to pay for that play simply because its "live".

Greg mentioned the cathartic experience. In this respect, today's theatre is severly lacking. This should be a priority for playwrights. In order for the audience to have a cathartic experience, they must be engaged and invested in the play. This is where theatricality comes in...

Here's my take on theatricality. (I touched upon it in the Resurrecting Working Class Theatre thread when I discussed the fantasy of Shakespeare.)

Theatricality is stortelling operating on a metaphorical level- whether it's narrative or some other form.

In a recent Instant Theatre, a playwright had an actor pull a wrench out of a bag. When the actor reached into the bag he pulled out a tube of toothpaste representing the wrench and proceeded to smash another actor in the skull. This moment of metaphor was an incredibly engaging moment in theatre. For anyone who has seen "The Sparrow", the moment when the teacher is shot- merely represented by a hole in a painting held up by the actor playing the teacher. Again, a immensely engaging moment in theatre. Why?

Because I, as an audience member, had to "bridge" the gap between metaphor and reality. That is complete and total engagement by the audience. Theatre is the only medium that can do this, do it well, and get away with it. That is what sets us apart from the other mediums. TV and film may try it, but they are never as successful at it as theatre.

When the audience is engaged on that level- when an audience bridges the gap between metaphor and reality- theatre is alive- there is connection between the live audience and the play- and then catharsis can occur. And that makes theatre theatre. And that gives this medium purpose.

Greg McCain said...

Christopher, I agree essentially with everything you are saying, except where you say,

"Because I, as an audience member, had to "bridge" the gap between metaphor and reality. That is complete and total engagement by the audience. Theatre is the only medium that can do this, do it well, and get away with it."

I disagree in that film and TV can do this bridging effectively, but in very different ways. They are different art forms, yes some aspects of them emerged out of theater, the use of narrative, but the most effective films do this bridging of metaphor and reality by effectively manipulating time and visuals, it is the Director and Editor's medium. Theater has always been the Writer's medium only in the last 100 and some odd years have Directors had anything to do with it.

Yes visuals can be used effectively in theater, but not at the expense of the narrative. These different art forms work on the psyche in different ways. That is why staging film or TV scripts don't have that cathartic effect and why watching taped "live" performances seem flat, it is in the psyche that we decode metaphor, and when one art form tries to do what it just isn't meant to do it rescrambles the code.

Christopher you hit it exactly right when you stated that the simple fact that it is live is not what makes it theatrical, otherwise well written staged film scripts would work everytime. The real time experience of theater is the fundamental aspect that triggers the psyche to respond in a different way than if it were experiencing a film or a novel or a painting or music (although music and poetry and theater are extremely close in their trigger responses). We as playwrights have to begin to understand what that specific trigger response is and shape our plays accordingly so that we are crossing the proper bridge between metaphor and reality and then the audience will trust us enough to make the crossing as well.

David said...

So much written in the short 24 hours since I've been gone! A couple of brief comments and questions, then I'm gone again:

-- Greg, you seemed to use the words "live" and "real time" interchangably when you wrote this:

Christopher you hit it exactly right when you stated that the simple fact that it is live is not what makes it theatrical, otherwise well written staged film scripts would work everytime. The real time experience of theater is the fundamental aspect that triggers the psyche to respond in a different way than if it were experiencing a film or a novel or a painting or music (although music and poetry and theater are extremely close in their trigger responses).

So what is the difference between real-time television and real-time theater?

To me, the difference is the eye. My eye, the eyes of the audience. In the theater, I choose where to look, where to focus, which metaphors (as Christoher described them) to focus on and which to ignore. Certainly, lighting, staging, etc., influence my eye in the theatre, but not to the degree that the camera lens and the director's and editor's choices force my focus while watching TV or film.

-- Christopher, you wrote about "A Steady Rain""

I feel that type of play is an attempt to transfer tv/film narrative to the stage.

I must disagree. Except for watching a filmed version of Spaulding Gray's "Swimming to Cambodia" on television many years ago (and a few other filmed versions of performance pieces), I can't remember ever seeing a story that was simply told - just told -- for 90 straight minutes, on the small screen. There have been a few monologue or dialogue films -- one set, one scene, proceeding in "real time" -- but even those are fairly rare.

No, I don't think you'd often see such a "sitting around the campfire telling us what happened" event, except in the theatre.

-- Christopher, you also wrote:

And since it's not possible to do it visually on stage, it's just done by TELLING the audeince what happens, rather than SHOWING the audeince. The audience is therefore cheated by never seeing any action on stage.

I think -- my opinion only -- that the fact that Keith gets away with telling us, rather than showing us, and still manages to keep most of the audience engaged, is the very brilliance of this piece. The mantra of most playwriting and screenwriting teaching is "show, don't tell." And while I don't disagree, most of the time, it's fascinating to see someone flip that convention on its head, and do so successfully.

And, in my use of the word "telling," I don't mean to say that Keith allowed his characters to tell us the obvious. The characters' language was full of the lies, evasions, half-truths, avoidance and self-deception that makes up all great dialogue and action. The characters were communicating -- and not communicating -- on many levels.

And that engages us. That forces us, as the audience, to create images in our head and to make those connections you describe earlier, as visual metaphors, that the playwright isn't giving us. To find out why 2 and 2 seem to be making something more, or less, than 4.

-- Speaking of which... earlier, Greg asks whether the playwright has effectively communicated what he or she wants to communicate. That is always the baseline for my work with other playwrights, when it comes down to "feedback" and all the "development" work we do with each other: Did the play, or the scene, or the moment, create the effect -- and elicit the reaction -- that you intended? (The majority of the time -- audiences are made up of freethinking individuals, of course, some of whom will always key onto something you hadn't intended.) Not what the audience wanted -- what you intended.

If so, you've done your job. And, in the case of "A Steady Rain," so has Keith, apparently. There are those people (including me) who think that the way this story is told and presented works just fine in the theater. Of course, ticket sales will also be telling...

(As an aside: What makes this particularly fun -- for me at least -- is that I know that this "style" of play is a complete departure for Keith. Much of his work over the past several years has been highly metaphorical -- visually (as you describe, Christopher), figuratively and every other form of -ly that one can imagine. Does that mean he's regressed as a playwright? Not in my mind... I just think he's tried something new -- for him.)

-- Coming back to the question of narrative, that started this whole discussion... Christopher, you asked, again re: "A Steady Rain":

Why does this particular story need to be told within the confines of a stage?

And earlier, I wrote:

I agree with you that certain stories -- and certain ways of telling stories -- often lend themselves to different media.

But I want to emphasize my use of the word "lend" and the caveat "certain ways of telling stories." I don't think any story must be told in a certain venue or form of media.

Take the Anne Frank story, for example. The particulars of the story are fairly straightforward and commonly known. The elements of that story, as they have been translated by later writers, remain the same... yet the Anne Frank story has successfully made its way into print, onto the stage and on film. The successes of these various versions of her story have not depended on the story itself, but on whether or not the writer, director or adaptor took full advantage of the medium through which they chose to tell that story.

...

OK, this was all, again, much more than was probably necessary. Once again, it's early in the morning and I've only had two sips of coffee.

But I want to close by saying that I'm focusing on this issue of traditional vs. non-traditional narrative in the theater, and appear to be "defending" traditional narrative, only in the context of this thread. The last three plays I've written have played with this idea of narrative, of storytelling (and how the story is told) in three very different ways. That is a part of my exploration of the medium of theater. I would not call myself a "traditionalist," nor would I call myself an "experimentalist."

In fact, I would probably call myself a "pragmatist." Am I telling the story in the most effective way possible, using the elements at my disposal (oil, acrylic, watercolors, canvas, cement, brushes, my dog's tail), and the subset of those tools that I've chosen to use, in the best way possible?

Theatregirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony said...

This will probably be soundly booed, but I'd have to diasgree with Greg about theatre always having been a writers medium until the encroachment of directors 100 years ago.

It has always been a medium of actors, and was before the encroachment of writers and then directors. Yes writers play an important role as do directors.

I think it's important to remember that people don't go to see a director or a writer (though some playwrights like Bill Shakesscene can be pretty widely read as well.) People go to see actors.

Theatre is an actors medium. It can exist without directors, without designers and yes even without writers. It cannot exist without actors.

So at some point it's really about how good the actors (storytellers) are at the stories they are telling.

I'd guess everyone has seen great writing butchered by bad acting, just as a lot of really bad writing has been saved by great actors.

I think a lot of writers get into trouble by forgetting that.

Aaron Carter said...

Well, I won't boo theatergirl. But I will disagree on one point.

I think great actors have covered bad writing. And perhaps in the process saved the audience from being bored or annoyed. But they haven't saved the writing.

I think great actors covering the flaws of writing do a disservice to the writer. Which, perhaps paradoxically, means that the actor isn't doing his or her job just as much as the writer isn't doing his or her job.

And somewhere in here, we're all buying into the division of labor. I write. I act. And each informs the other.

Tony said...

Sorry the theatregirl comment was from me. I hadn't realized the wife had logged into her google account on our computer until I had already posted it. So I tried to delete it and repost. My bad.

Devilvet said...

This is not me, but instead a character inside tonight who thinks----

Risk...one of us was talking about risk

isn't it bizarre that so often the work that not only gets produced but that also draws them in are the works that have the least risk...

was it always that way? Where is the risk now? Who is risking?

Someone show me