#10 - So what the Heck is Play Development? - January 29, 2017
So here is the sorry truth.
Very rarely do you ever get it right the first time. Yes, it may look beautiful on paper, but once given to an actor who embodies it, often, you will see and hear where your play needs to be developed.
Your play needs to be developed? What?
That's a nice way to say "It is not all there yet!"
Play development is often not part of the creating process of a majority of individuals writing plays today. They write a play and submit it out.
A play is alive. It is an event. It is a happening. It is ephemeral and disappears as one watches it.
It is not two dimensional. It is not the written word. It is not a novel nor is it meant to be read like a novel, (except when it is being submitted out, so that the reader can understand the playwright's vision.)
The best thing any playwright can do, be they 13 or 113, is to find some actor friends, rehearse and bring your play to life, even if it is just in your living room. Or at least, bring parts of it to life, before you submit it out.
Seeing your work embodied by actors can give you a real sense of what is working and what isn't. It is the second stage of play development. Bringing it to life.
When actors embody your work, you can hear words or phrases which don't ring true or seem somehow seem false, even though they read well on paper. You can get a sense of how you have over-written your play, for sometimes when an actor embodies a play, nothing needs to be said. You words are just telling the audience something, when, with an actor, connected and doing the work, the audience is getting it EMOTIONALLY.
Just recently I wrote, directed and produced a 10 Minute Play entitled THE BRIDGE at Manhattan Rep. It is the tale of two suicidal women who "meet" on the top of the Brooklyn Bridge as they are both about to kill themselves and then through their interaction, they decide not to take their lives. It is a fantastic premise (talk about starting a play at the beginning!) and I was lucky to have cast two amazing actors who stepped up to the material and made it real. All of sudden, in rehearsal, I realized I didn't need many of the lines I had written. It was so much more powerful with less. The silence between them spoke volumes. And it was so moving. Plus, the play was funny at times, and I didn't know it was funny when it was still "on the page." This has to be one of the best short plays I have ever written, but the actors commitment and emotional depth was what helped me write it. And if I had never brought it to life, it would have been just ok.
So I invite you to take the plunge into the next stage of play development, and bring it to life in whatever context can work for you. (At Manhattan Rep, we offer many short play events, and longer series too, which are design for PLAY DEVELOPMENT, to help the words disappear as the story of your play is brought to life.)
A play is alive.
Bringing your work to life might just be your next step.