The Effect

January 18th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m not sure how to describe this next thing… but here’s a shot: You, as the writer, must be interested in the EFFECT of your work on the audience (keeping in mind that any single thing will have different effects across individuals, because they’re experiencing the play through their own, unique filters). So you should go into the post-reading discussion knowing what effects you hoped to have on the majority of the audience, and be prepared to find ways of discovering whether or not those effects were achieved in the majority of the audience, when you wanted them to happen.

I emailed David Moore who had a blog (he moved it) named DAM* Writer prior to my staged reading and he was kind enough to answer (even though I was oblivious enough to miss the email he sent–only having discovered it in the new year). The quote above is from him, and to me it was very illuminating. For some reason I just plowed through my play-creation process, knowing the story I wanted to tell (in some cases) and just writing (in others). I was aware that the Aristotelean approach to playwriting existed–but naively, the point of it never hit me until I read David’s thoughts.

I emphasize the “effect” thing because there’s no right or wrong to writing. There’s only what you wanted to achieve, and whether or not you achieved it.

He’s right. Your write to achieve an effect, and you either do or you don’t. This certainly neutralizes a lot of the crap that tended to build-up along the side of my playwriting process. That is, it tells me what to focus on (at least, primarily) and what to ignore. I’ll leave you with a bit more of what he said and posit it, here, as a final thought:

Sure, those who want formulaic plays will demand resolution, clarification, too much information, etc. And if that’s the play you want to write, that’s perfectly valid. But no matter what kind of play you want to write, no matter what the intended audience (artsy-fartsy or Middle America), it all comes down to this: What do you, the writer, want? You’re the artist — how do you want the audience to experience the play, or specific scenes/moments in the play? What do you want them talking about when they go home? How did you want them to feel throughout the play, or at specific points in the play? What rhythms were you hoping to achieve? What themes or ideas did you hope to put under the microscope?

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