Playwriting

Giving Birth

baby

I do compare finishing a draft (*) to the act of giving birth. Yes I know, they are not comparable. Yes I know, or so I’ve heard, giving birth is painful. My plays are what I got. They come out of me, they are a part of me, it hurts me deeply when people call them short or fat or unworthy of existing on the planet.

This week I gave birth to a 95 page beautiful script. It is both gratifying and terrifying. I’ve been neck deep in revisions, trying to make it just right – at least on the page. That’s very gratifying – knowing that it’s right on the page. It’s taken a lot of passes because the play is a wee bit high concept, a little bit out to the left, with a thesis to boot plus two parts rock and one part roll. (**)

That’s fine and dandy, on paper. But plays do not exist on paper. They exist out of the mouth, out of the ear and the eye. They must be seen, heard, experienced, plunged into the mind and body.

SIDE RANT ON: This is what annoys me about mediocre and sub mediocre plays. I’m not saying that plays have to be tragic and high flautin’. The best comedy is plunged into the mind and body to make it laugh. But the mediocre play does nothing but sit on the surface of the skin to slide off the instant the house lights come up. SIDE RANT OFF.

High concept plays are tricky. They either work or they don’t. And they have to work on their feet, living and breathing, out in the real world. (***)

That’s the terrifying part. What if the play only works in my mind and not out in the real world? It’s scary in the real world and maybe I don’t want my baby out there. At least, not without a scarf and a twenty safety pinned to the inside of his pants.

Small steps, small steps. I’ve given the play to my editor/husband/guy who knows what to say about my writing so I don’t dive off buildings. He’s very handy. (****)

And then we’ll deal with the real world….

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(*) And when I say ‘draft’ I mean the draft that’s in the pre-dawn moment right before you’re ready to actually show it to people and talk about it. I hate when people ask me about a play in the concept stages. It’s not ready to be talked about, and it’s always awkward because I’m not swift enough to lie when some says ‘What are you working on?’ I could say nothing and end the conversation but I like being a writer, and I’m proud to be a writer so when someone asks me ‘What are you working on’ there’s a scissor kick gut reflex that shoots out of my mouth and reveals what it is I’m actually working on. Even though I’m not ready to talk about it. And when people ask that question, they don’t really want to know the details anyway. And I can’t explain them efficiently enough and I can see the need to move on to the next person in the room growing in their eyes. I should really just learn to dampen that kick and become a better liar. I’ll work on that. (*)

(**) AND it’s not a Theatrefolk play. Why write plays that aren’t going to be published by Theatrefolk? Well, ha, ha, it’s the thing I did for fun this summer. What did you do on your summer vacation? I wrote a play! Just for fun! That will probably never be produced anywhere! Seriously, though, I wrote it because I’ve been feeling burned out as a writer. My plan was to take July off writing completely. That lasted two days. What I learned is that I wasn’t burned out from writing, I was burned out writing for Theatrefolk. It’s been a fantastic month writing for fun. And now I feel rather energized and excited about writing which should be evident in the length of this post. Long huh?

(***) I got nothing. Just thought I’d continue the trend.

(****) And he likes it! Hey Mikey!

About the author

Lindsay Price