Playwriting

Shhhh. I’m hunting proof errors….

Working on the final proof for a new play coming out very shortly, Stupid is Just 4 2day. The process goes like this:

  • The play is ready to be published. Hooray!
  • The play is formatted. Other wise known as making it look pretty. Craig is our super duper desk-top publishing guru. He’s tried to explain InDesign to me. But it’s kind of like when Linus hears his teacher talking in the Charlie Brown specials.
  • The play is printed (on recycled paper of course) so we can check for errors.
  • We (Craig and Lindsay) read the play at least twice each. We’re not looking at the content of the play. We’re looking for errors. Spelling errors, typographical errors, missing words.
  • Craig and Lindsay marvel at how many times one can read a proof and still find errors. The brain is a tricky piece of work my friends – if the brain knows a word is missing, it’ll just fill it in for you. If the brain knows how a word is supposed to be spelled, it will tell the eye the word is spelled correctly even though it isn’t. (During a recent workshop the actors said the word ‘sacred’ correctly over and over again in a scene, even though it was written as ‘scared.’ None of us caught the error.)
  • The proof is passed on to the author. Who, more often that not finds another error.
  • Craig and Lindsay marvel again at how many times it takes to review a proof.
  • If necessary, Craig and Lindsay review the proof again, send it back to the author again until it’s right.

Finding an error is sometimes like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s easy to focus on the content of a play rather than the typography. But it’s such an important part of presenting the finished play. A sloppy proof makes people think that there’s something wrong with the content. And we certainly don’t want that!

Today I found the mother of mistakes! A character name from a previous version of the play which doesn’t exist in this version. I love correcting proof errors, but even at the end of the process I’m always left wondering if there’s one still in there…. one left behind that no one caught…. waiting to spring out at us once the plays gone to print…. waiting…. waiting….

About the author

Lindsay Price