Honor The Playwrights

What is it about a great play that makes it great?  Well of course it’s everything combined.  Every contributing artist and every aspect of theatre art creates the whole.  But first, it’s the words.

I’ve been thinking specifically about playwrights and writing because of  31 Plays in 31 Days — the playwright challenge project I wrote about a few weeks ago which has playwright participants undertaking to write 31 plays in 31 days.  (See my guest blogger post on their website this week.)

31 Plays in 31 Days is about writing –   Fast, furious, flawed inevitably, writing.  A lot of writing in a short period of time.  Taking writing risks and not over-editing;  trusting that first instinct and trying something new.  Getting words down on paper.  (Not worrying too much about punctuation.)    I want to honor the project and honor the playwrights.  So, I’m writing this post that way —  fast and flawed.

I admit to being a bit in awe of most good theatre artists.  As a group, they have enhanced my life beyond measure.  But the playwrights are my true stars. First, just finding the stories. Participants in that project are all confident they can tell 31 stories in 31 days.  No sweat.  Wow.  I don’t have 31 stories.  I don’t have one story. (I mean, of course everybody has a story; everyone has 31 stories — but you’re either a writer of stories or you’re not.)  I am in awe of the writers of stories.

Then,  the ability to write dialogue as if people are actually talking to other people.  Playwrights, good playwrights, make that look easy.  It’s not easy.  Look at the bad novels; at the unproduced scripts.  It is quite easy to write very bad dialogue.

The playwrights write the stories that tell us what we’ve been thinking about, worried about, dreaming about, but didn’t quite realize,  or we couldn’t quite formulate the words ourselves.  A play can bring us relief and peace even when it hurts or moves us.  Like the calm that comes over you after you suddenly find that specific word you’ve been struggling to come up with or find a way to make someone understand, or understand yourself, some vague and uncrystallized feeling.   A good play might show us people and lives we never encountered or focus a different lens on ones we know.  Often, a good play has moments that make us laugh from somewhere deep inside ourselves.  Good theatre helps us see, process and live in the world.  Countless good reasons for seeing a good play.

If you’re reading this, and you’re a good playwright, or on your way to becoming one  (you know who you are), thank you.  On behalf of myself and all those in the audiences who will see your work and recognize something, realize something, learn something, feel something that they might not have without your articulate help, thank you.

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