by Robin Byrd
“Trying to teach my hands to do what I hear in my head” John Hartford, fiddler
Every year I try to work on a new play or writing project and part of that entails finding different ways to tell the story. I have all these stories in my head that I want to tell and at times I feel like John Hartford, that I must teach myself a new way into the story before I can get what’s in my head out. The last few years, I have noticed that even when I hear “first words,” I must still wait until the structure is revealed to me as well. At other times, I must prevent myself from overriding what seems to be outside the realm of textbook playwriting – more theatrical than normal for me.
David Henry Hwang states in his author’s note in M. BUTTERFLY, “Before I can begin writing, I must ‘break the back of the story,’ and find some angle which compels me to set pen to paper.’
Compelling angles are very important to giving a story a fair chance to have a life on stage.
Each play is different. Each time we write, we must find a way to get words on the page worthy of living out loud on the stage – always new, always the same but different, always the best journey to take to “The End.” And then, we start all over again trying to get more stories out of our heads…