The Playwright’s Voice and/or Intentions…

by Robin Byrd

The collaboration part of theater should not to come at the expense of the playwright’s voice and/or intentions. Is that a true statement?

I have been thinking about this — how intent/vision plays a big part in the end results of play production. But, whose vision should win out – if there is such a thing as winning in this case. Should it be a battle to get the story you wrote told, should you have to pick which part you will let go for the sake of someone else’s vision? Getting it to the stage is a big deal, getting collaborators who see the play as you do is an even bigger deal. I think the collective vision should be the playwright’s vision, first and foremost, and all other visions should move that vision forward, not stifle it, change it, ignore it but add to the layers of it. Tied up in all that intent, is a playwright’s voice which is life…blood, the culmination of many journeys, a song whose rhythm is pain and joy, a sound flung up to heaven echoing back at us…

I wonder about these things. What if after all one’s striving over the perfect line, it is missed in delivery or rearranged or deemed non-important; I hope my intent as a playwright is not lost…and I hope collaborator choices bring something wonderful to the piece and do not take away from my intent or my voice. I hope they ask me questions… while I am a living playwright.  But, most of all, I hope that I speak up if and when I need to, whether or not it is expected or welcomed to make my intentions known.

Intent. What is the playwright’s intent? That question is asked in literary settings when studying fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama; it is also asked in acting class during scene study. It is a question that I strive to answer in all my work. It is the thing that makes a story stay with you…

Some interesting articles I found about intentions:

Pulitzer Winner Bruce Norris Retracts Rights to German Troupe’s Clybourne Park Over “Blackface” Casting

Playwright Katori Hall Expresses Rage Over “Revisionist Casting” of Mountaintop With White Dr. Martin Luther King

Playwright David Mamet Halts Play over Gender-Bending Casting

Heated exchanges at La Jolla Playhouse over multicultural casting [Updated]

Mike Lew – Playwright on Casting Actors of Color

‘For Colored Girls’ Movie: Ntozake Shange’s ‘No Madea’ Rule

 

I think about these things because I want to make sure that all of my work is filled with my voice and my intent without confusion and I don’t want to have to worry about it once the piece takes wings.

So, Yes; it is true that the collaboration part of theater should not to come at the expense of the playwright’s voice and/or intentions…  What do you think?

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