It is my opinion that often a playwright doesn’t get to hang on to the complete vision of their play enough. They get butchered, bastardized and taken away from their original intention because so many people are pulling at it. And you end up with a hodge podge mess of a thing.
Here’s a letter from JD Salinger describing why he will never let Catcher in the Rye be made into a film. What I admire perhaps, is his strength of conviction but it seems like at the end of the day, he doesn’t trust actors.
The most interesting pieces I’ve seen lately seem to have a complete vision are Once and For All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are, So Shut Up and Listen at the New Victory Theater and Pig Iron’s Chekhov Lizardbrain at Clemente Soto Velez. In the case of the first, the director got 13 14-18 year olds in a room and devised the piece with them. In the case of Pig Iron, from what I have read, the piece was group conceived by three of the actors and the director.
So, what I am trying to figure out is where I can belong in a collaborative process like that which yields striking results, where everyone buys in and creates something that is more than the sum of the parts.
I am going to see if I can make the April/May workshop of The Sugar House at the Edge of the Wilderness that kind of experience for all involved. We’ll see. We’ll experiment. We’ll play. I’m going to try to hang on by letting go, but doing so in a collaborative environment.
I would like to hear about successful collaborative or devised experiences that anyone has heard about. Anybody? Colossal failures too. It is helpful to know what doesn’t work.
But, for now, have a look.