Friday, December 11, 2009

Playwrights versus directors

In Intelligent Life (the magazine from the Economist), writer Laura Parker takes issue with Edward Albee's determination not to allow directors to change his dramatic intentions.
“I see and hear my play on stage in my mind when I write it,” [Albee says]. “I expect people to perform it that way.”
Parker says that Albee's views are
dazzlingly out of date. Theatre is an ever-growing, ever-changing medium. No progress could ever be made if everyone stuck to the rules.
However, in the comments below the piece a number of people jump to Albee's defence, including American playwright Bruce Norris:
About a year ago, I was informed in a roundabout way that one of my plays (called "The Pain and the Itch") was being performed in Melbourne at the Red Stitch Theatre. I found out that the director had chosen to costume the actors for the duration of the play, start to finish, in their underwear. Needless to say, this was not what had been written in the script - which, by the way, is not a "classic" in any sense of the word. It's a brand new play which premiered in the US in 2006. But apparently, I am an "old fogey" like Mr. Albee, because I had to have my agents contact the theatre and threaten to withdraw the rights to the production if they refused to perform the play as written.
Link via Chris Wilkinson's post on the Guardian theatre blog.


  1. J G BINNIE8:02 pm

    I keep wondering how Shakespeare managed without a director. I've had actors make my script far better than I ever imagined it could be and directors who've made my playscript a complete nonsense. Who said there were rules?

  2. Tim O'Mara12:44 pm

    As a writer/director in TV I get the best of both worlds. However,actors bring some great ideas and interpretations to the table as do other members of the crew - art direction,set design,lighting,sound
    costume,editor,composer. In TV a director helps lead a team of ideas that should enhance the original script not'change'it. However I'd never believe I'd written the perfect script and would welcome discussion on improvements particularly from actors now required to 'live'the parts. I would also want to talk to the writer and have them on set/stage to develop those ideas.


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