Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Sex on Stage

October 4, 2013

I’ve made a post on my other blog, The Lark’s Nest, about sex on stage. Explicit content/NSFW.


Stage directions: threat or menace?

December 3, 2011

In an interview with the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative, Steven Epperson, Literary Manager for Impact Theatre talks about things that turn him off when reading a play. One of those things is too many stage directions. Among other things, he says “Having line after line after line after line of stage directions interrupts the flow and rhythm that I’m trying to discern from a playwright’s writing.” Further down, in the comments, he suggests as an exercise removing all stage directions except entrances and exits.

I consider myself somewhat spare in stage directions to begin with. Nevertheless, I tried Steven’s suggestion in a few places in one of my plays. What I discovered is that having too many stage directions can also interfere with my editing process.

Spoiler alert: If you’re doing blind reading for a competition that had a Nov. 30 deadline, you might not want to continue reading.

Continue reading Stage directions: threat or menace?

Never say “no” to a note

January 22, 2011

When engaging in public feedback sessions after a reading of my plays or scenes, I follow a nearly invariant rule: never respond to a note other than to say “thank you” or to write it down (and yes, I really do write it down, not my shopping list). I’ve only broken it when I’ve felt someone has said something insulting (see my post on Warning! Lecture Ahead), and even then I would do well rise above it and follow my usual rule.

But when I’m discussing it with somebody one-on-one, I will sometimes break the rule and tell them why I’m not doing x. I suspect that is still a mistake. Because sometimes comments need to percolate.

Continue reading Never say “No” to a Note

What a difference a direction makes

May 8, 2010

My fourth full-length play My Visit to America (MVTA) is in revision. (My third play, The Beginning of Grammar, is also in revision, but it is not the subject of this post.) Last month, I took the opening nine pages — about 10 minutes — of Act II of MVTA to my playwriting group’s scene night to be read by actors. The comments were mostly negative. This week, I took the revised scene to the same group to be read. This time the comments were mostly positive, and people who were at both readings agreed the new version was a major improvement over the previous version.

Here’s the interesting part. I only changed one line of dialog, by having one character interrupt another’s expository sentence. But I don’t think that explains the improved comments. I think it was the other thing I changed: a stage direction.

Continue reading What a difference a direction makes


December 24, 2009

Despite it taking much work and having long gestation periods, I work almost entirely in full-length works of 70 minutes (70 is the new 90) to 2 hours. While I’ve written three 10-minute plays – one of which was produced by the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco – I don’t find them fulfilling to write and am unlikely to write more.

I also don’t find 10-minute plays fulfilling to watch.

Continue reading Next!

Politeness in dialog

December 22, 2009

In The Economist is an article on politeness in English (subscription apparently now required) and in other languages around the globe.  This is – well not quite timely; I’ve been working on the first draft of this play for over three years – of interest to me in the alternate history play I’ve been working on, My Visit to America. In that play, set in a very different present from our own, the language – which might be English or perhaps the play has been translated into English – retains three politeness levels.

Continue reading Politeness in dialog

Write what you don’t know

December 20, 2009

After my dismissal of Chekov’s law, the next phrase I’d love to see disappear from playwriting feedback sessions is Write What You Know. I put that in all caps because if you’ve ever heard this at a feedback session you know it is delivered as a lecture from on high – you can hear the caps – not as a reasoned comment on the playwright’s play that they have brought to the feedback session.

But even if feedback sessions were a place for lectures on craft, Write What You Know would not belong there, because Write What You Know doesn’t even belong in a lecture on craft, except to dispel the notion that there is anything to be gained by following it.

Continue reading Write what you don’t know

Erasing history

December 19, 2009

Most theatres have Web sites.  Most theatre Web sites have the (understandable) goal of getting potential audiences to those theatres to see their work, potential donors to donate money, potential actors and directors to associate with the theatre, and in general to educate the public about their reason for existence.

The theatres may or may not be interested in getting playwrights to submit plays to them. Yet, it is the desire of (most) playwrights to submit plays to theatres in hopes of getting a production. Unfortunately, many theatres omit some very basic information for playwrights from their Web site:

Continue reading Erasing history

Repeal Chekov’s Law

December 18, 2009

You know the law, the one that says (approximately) if you introduce a gun in the first act then it has to go off by the third. Get rid of it. Now!

There are big problems with it:

Continue reading Repeal Chekov’s Law