Big Uh-Huh Moment

by Erica Bennett

A friend told me yesterday that he didn’t understand my intentions behind something I recently wrote. Words to the effect, he didn’t understand how I wanted him to feel… “Is crying a bad thing?” That made me curious. Because, I realize that I don’t want people to feel any particular way when experiencing my work, but certainly, yes, feel something.

I’ve been trained as an archivist where being unbiased is part of the mission. I realize today that I must be conjoining archivist-dramatist because, as a playwright, I know I have written other even less focused stories.

Perhaps this has been my fatal flaw. Maybe I need to lead my audience toward what it is I intend to say rather than letting them experience the character’s story and determine for themselves what it means to them and how it makes them feel?

Maybe that’s what they mean by plays are about Action.

1 Comment

  • By Robin Byrd, May 28, 2015 @ 6:14 pm

    “There’s no question that being absolutely clear about what you intended in the play is essential to making sure that intention is still intact at the end of the process.” Richard Toscan, The Playwriting Seminars. (A really good source to answer questions.)

    Try to write this line for all your plays and see what you get — “A HERO who WANTS something, takes ACTION, meets with CONFLICT that leads to a CLIMAX and a RESOLUTION.” I would not say being unbiased and being unfocused are the same thing. You do have to tell a story, decide what it is and tell it – biased or unbiased – tell it. Who is the hero? What do they want? How do they plan to get it? What’s in the way? Will they get around it? Does something have to happen so they can get around it? If they win what does that mean? If they lose what does that mean? If nothing happens what does that mean? Not all things can be resolved…but most important, is why you have to tell this story and tell it at this time? What are you trying to say? Do the scenes work together to get you there?

    Isn’t the character’s story tied into what you intend to say because you are saying it through the character? Just tell the story, sometimes not feeling anything is the reaction and maybe asking oneself why there was no reaction rather than asking the playwright.

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