I know there are playwrights who want only general, not specific, comments on their plays.
But I’m not one of them.
I’ve read three full-length plays at the Playwrights’ Platform meetings over the past year and the feedback from the other playwrights and actors has been tremendously helpful. Each play was read in two readings. I write down every comment that the listeners make even if I think I won’t use it, because–who knows? I might make the change some day.
The first act of SAY YES TO TOOTLEBRITCHES had one character, Amanda, an aging woman walking around the stage talking to her fake dogs, and lots of stage directions. I won’t forget the heavy, leaden feeling in the air as I read the stage directions out loud. Talk about tedious! The second act went much better, with the appearance of the angel and then Amanda’s best friend. The comments from the listeners were super helpful. I sent a revision of the ending to the actors and one of them suggested a more subtle ending, which I used. We can call it the Eric Skoglund ending.
My big memory of DADDY DUSTBALL was how we got off on a tangent after the reading, with commenters wondering whether the character Sandra would or should call another character “retarded.” Many people had an opinion about this! One playwright in particular thought “retarded” should stay. I kept “retarded” in the play, but now the character Norman says it. We can call this the Lawrence Hennessy word choice.
I’m still working on incorporating the comments from THE MIND HAS LEGS. One of the playwrights gave me an extremely useful technical comment–something I was vaguely aware of but trying to ignore. Most of the scenes start with Megan and Hardy sitting on the floor together, and the time sequence is unclear. How long has been it been since they were sitting there in the last scene? And why aren’t they doing something else? If I can figure this problem out and structure the play better, we can call it the Chris King structure.
It doesn’t exactly take a village to write a play. But it does take several playwrights and actors reading and listening and commenting and contributing. No comment is too small to make a difference in a play.