04 December 2004

Plays and more plays

As I like to mention, I see a lot of theater. The other day, for fun, I listed all the shows I've seen since about April and it's a reasonably hefty list. I also read plays. I love to read actor's copies of plays because the notes we make during rehearsals are (to me) very illuminating into the actor's own process. Reading copies of scripts after I've seen the show done allows me to enjoy the best dialogue again but also shows me which things I liked came from the author, which came from the director, and which came from the actor. If the director and the actor are really in synch the last two won't be so obvious, but some authors really load up on the stage directions and some give you almost none.

The script for "Dinner" is overlarded with stage direction because the published script came from the stage manager's script of the original run, so it has every stinking bit of business that those dead people did: "What time did you say" (eases right) "they'll be here?" That sort of thing. The fun part of Kaufman scripts for me are the descriptions of the characters: "He looks like every caricature ever drawn of him. "

Neil Simon tells you nothing. You get dialogue. He dictates line readings only if it isn't apparent from the dialogue, so his stuff isn't laced with "warily" or "sarcastically." Which means either he trusts actors and directors to figure it out or he knows he'll be there for rehearsals for the first run and can dictate from the seat next to the director. I like to read author's descriptions of characters just because it gives me an idea where (s)he's going. I also like to look at the front of the book and see who was in the original cast. If I remember correctly, I've been cast in roles that Christine Baranski played on Broadway, even though I don't think I'm much like her. (Wouldn't mind being like her, mind you.)

So I'm adding to my stack of plays to read. Michael suggested I read "'night, Mother." And I have David's "A View From the Bridge." And a bunch of Frayn. I like Frayn and Ayckbourn because they like to set puzzles for themselves and then solve them. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. I've seen one Pinter and I'd like to see more. I've seen one Neil LaBute and would be interested in seeing more. And .... I'm going to see "Fit to be Tied" on Friday in hopes of improving my opinion of Nicky Silver. (Wish me luck on that one. It'll be an uphill trip.)

Ahhhhhh, plays and more plays.

No comments: