Thursday, June 22, 2006

Catch Up or Give Up

It's been a long time since I posted. I have "blogged" on my laptop, or made notes for blogging, but been blocked somehow, in writing projects generally. I'm going to see how difficult it is to catch up, posting backward from June to May, and then either post a few times per week or abandon the whole idea.
I see that my formidable friend and fellow playwright Linda Eisenstein has begun to blog-- maybe she'll be an inspiration. Although she seems to me to have twice my energy generally. There's a problem with the shape of my days. I get up, feed Alice the cat, join my daughter for some yoga-based stretching and a quick perusal of the Boston Globe, return to my study and read and answer email, check the Huffington Post and my favorite political blogs-- and whoosh! The potentially most productive hours of my day are over! Today I have a dog walk to do and an evening brush-up rehearsal for Martha Mitchell. And it is almost time to turn my attention to that. Not the way to use precious time. When I think of the hours I 've frittered away obsessing about Karl Rove and Plamegate!
Alexander Cockburn takes people like me to the woodshed in the current (July 3) Nation:
".... Rove and Cheney.... have driven George Bush into the lowest ratings of any American President. Yet the left remains obsessed with their evil powers. Is there any better testimony to the vacuity and impotence of the endlessly touted "blogosphere,"...?
In political terms the blogosphere is like white noise, insistent and meaningless. ....
Beyond raising money swiftly handed over to the gratified veterans of the election industry, both MoveOn and Daily Kos have had zero political effect, except as a demobilizing force. The effect on writers is horrifying. Talented people feel they have to produce 400 words of commentary every day, and you can see the lethal consequences on their minds and style, which turn rapidly to slush. They glance at the New York Times and rush to their laptops to rewrite what they just read. Hawsers to reality soon fray and they float off, drifting zeppelins of inanity."
Though I seldom comment on the political blogs--- why me, amonst so many?--I do often reply to Theatre mailing list posts.
Today I chimed in on a discussion about the formatting of play scripts. A literary manager said to us playwrights on the list:
"Frankly, I find "cute", "alternative" or "funky" formatting layout techniques in stage plays amateurish, arrogant, and patronizing---not to mention showing that the playwright doesn't take the craft of playwriting seriously....."
To which I replied:
If you can afford the postage, send your funky format plays to theatres in the UK which do not share the US prejudice in favor of "professional" format. Some of the more notorious of them may even be said to have a bias towards plays that lay out the words as if they were poetry-- and an even greater bias towards scripts where the words Are poetry. When you hand over a pound or two for a photocopy of a play script in the lobby of an originating theatre in London, it is more likely to look like the MS of The Waste Land than like a product of Final Draft. I have a friend who brings back scripts by the dozen every year. Some of them don't even indicate who is speaking! I read the ones she recommends, and sometimes I get hopelessly lost and have to call her and say: "What's so great about that play you gave me? It's all in some patois, no stage directions, I can't figure out what's going on!" And she'll say-- "The scene in the middle where the epileptic son slaps his mother and then collapses... the audience was stunned, and in tears...". So I'll try to find that scene, and imagine it, and work backwards to figure out the relationships and actions and forward to the resolution. It's hard work! But then, so is figuring out what the hell is going on in The Waste Land. (without all the tacked-on tongue-in-cheek footnotes)


Blogger YS said...

Good for You!

Yes, it is kind of like the business owner who won't change and then can't believe that his company is losing market share.

The theatre blogosphere is really trying to tackle these problems.

I added a little more to your thoughts at my blog:

12:03 PM  

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