Monday, July 22, 2013

Why do people "mess with your play" Part 2

So last week we talked about two reasons why people might be "messing" with your new play. This week we'll talk about the next two.

#3 Your cast list isn't flexible enough.

Casting a show is a hard undertaking. I know because I've done it several times before. You always have the fear that you may not have the people showing up that will fit the part perfectly. A lot of times you have to make compromises. You have to take the actors that you can get and that work well together. It doesn't help when you know you also have to please the playwright who might have had completely different people in their minds than the people who showed up. It's very hard to argue with the whole "When I wrote it I was thinking of this kind of person" when all I can say is "this is who SHOWED UP!" 

Here are the realities of casting your play...

  • Sometimes the guy who "looked right". Doesn't have the skills necessary. No I can't give him the right skills in time for the play.
  • In the theatre world there are five women for every man. Sometimes if the character doesn't specifically have to be a man I will cast it as a woman who can read the part.
  • People might have to play older than they are, people might have to play a different race or nationality than they are (if it is viable). Like the song says you can't always get what you want. Get over it.
  • What ever famous actor or specific type that you had for the role when you wrote it? Forget it. I cannot get an Anthony Hopkins look a like (or Anthony Hopkins himself) to come and audition for us. If you can get him over by all means make some calls.

#4 You can't keep playing the "God card".

Yes I know that as a playwright you are an expert in the world that you created. Yes I know that you had all of these cool ideas and inspirations in mind when you wrote it and the characters had a lot more nuance and depth in your head than you the director and actors are finding on the stage. Well here's the problem...the story that you wrote, the one in your head, is probably not the one that is on the page right now. A playscript is not a story or a piece of literature. It is a blueprint to a theatre performance, the equivalent of a musical score to a symphony. You have to let your play stand on it's own and trust the production team to interpret the blueprint in a way that's right for the audience watching it.  If watching it you don't like what you see then maybe you need to make some edits to the script and make the things much clearer.

Not many playwrights want to admit it but maybe your production is muddled and not good because you gave them a bad blueprint. Maybe you have a great story but a bad script. It's happened to me...it's happened to all of us....let's just get it done. 

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