“Sunday . . . . it’s hard to believe it can be so quiet after a noisy Saturday night . . . . Where did the night go? Already it’s Sunday.” ~~ Rod McKuen and Anita Kerr, 1967 The San Sebastian Strings “The Earth”
It was a noisy year. It’s quiet now. Now, I wait. I’ve not been “on fire” about writing these days. The “not on fire” troubles me sometimes. Been thrashing with a new project and adventure. New is the key word. I’m gonna keep at it. I invite you to wait with me.
Here are a few musings to close out the year.
A dragon lives outside my door. She’s scarred and wrinkled, but she still breathes fire. The door is scratched and pitted, worn in spots. A single lock secures the door. I have the key. My dragon has grown restless. She hears the discord. She smells the fear. She feels the energy of a reckoning. She’s moved closer to the door. Her warm moist breath flows over the threshold. A rhythmic inhale/exhale commences. I don’t linger long at the door. While I feel her breath, I don’t dare let our breaths synchronize. I know this dragon from years ago. I recall our adventures. I dare not open the door and set her free.
Don’t Do It
Over the last couple of months, I have overheard actors and directors comment on altering, modifying, deleting, omitting and changing the written dialogue of a play. While attending a workshop, I heard a novice set designer say, “it’s only dialogue.” An actor shared that she would not say what she considered to be offensive words, so she changed the words or did not say them at all. A director commented that he cut various lines and scenes, because the play was too long. DON’T DO THAT
If a theatre has a performance contract (which it should), the contract probably stipulates that no part of the play can be changed without the prior written approval of the copyright holder, i.e. the playwright or, perhaps, the publishing company. A producer, director, actor or other theatre professional does not have the right to arbitrarily make changes. As a playwright, I don’t care if you think it sounds better or makes more sense. It is NOT your property. You didn’t write it. There are numerous examples of copyright infringement and breach of contract if you need specifics. DON’T DO IT
I had a 10-minute play modified without my permission. Dialogue was cut from the script. The omission of several lines changed the dynamic of the play. I suspect it was the director or festival executive who made the decision to “sanitize” the play. I found the decision deeply disturbing and felt such action was arrogant and self-serving.
Here’s a simple solution. For theatre companies, select and produce a play you like. For an actor, if you don’t like the dialogue of a character in a play, don’t audition for the role. For a director, if you are hell bent to change a line of dialogue, seek permission. And perhaps, as a final solution, if, as a actor, director, artistic director, producer or other theatre professional, you believe you can do better, then write your own play. DO THAT