I got a request this week from some students. They loved one of my plays and they wanted to do it but they didn’t think the ending was clear enough. Could they write a better ending to it?
Thankfully, the teacher understood, and perhaps knew as she was asking, that the answer was a ringing, resounding no.
I get requests quite often for changes. Sometimes it’s to change a character from a girl to a boy. Sometimes it’s for language. Sometimes it’s cuts for time. Sometimes it’s like the above where they want to add material.
The last one always gets rejected. Any added material is not mine and in the end, if they have the writing bug in them, they should write their own play. I spend a lot of time on my work – what’s on the page is what I approve! One time a teacher got very irate with me when I wouldn’t approve added material (I was apparently a great disappointment). I think that the material had already been added to the production but the teacher needed publisher approval for the changes and was a wee bit frustrated when it wasn’t given.
As for other changes I’m pretty philosophical. I work pretty much exclusively with schools and that atmosphere has to be taken into consideration. It’s just foolish to ride a high horse and be precious about every word of every work. (As opposed to profession productions when I think the opposite – every word absolutely should be performed as written!) Sometimes teachers have pressures from the powers above. There is no straight forward rule for appropriate language. Sometimes a kid drops out at the last minute and it’s either change the gender or the play doesn’t get done.
In the end, I’m always more generous to those who ask before the production, and I’m much less generous to those who wait till the last minute. I’m also pretty clear in the script when something can’t be changed. Power Play is about high school violence, of which language is a part. There’s a note in the script that basically says, if you can’t do the language, don’t do the play as you won’t get permission to cut it.
I know that there are productions out there of my work that have been changed and cut and I just don’t know about it. It’s wrong but not knowing at least doesn’t give me ulcers!