azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 09:19am on 14/10/2010
I got stuck for a while on a particular scene in the current writing project. I needed the characters to sit at a table, then move to a couch and then have sex. Sounds reasonable enough, but I simply couldn't get it to work. They would sit at the table, talk and then have sex or they would sit on the couch, talk and then have sex, but they refused to interrupt the process of having a conversation that led to sex at the table in order to go and sit on the couch for a bit.

This struck me as exactly the kind of problem I used to face directing plays. Which makes it Reason 1649 why writing is like acting/directing.

It's something of a cliché that actors are constantly asking, "What's my motivation?" One of my acting teachers used to tell a story about a famous theatre actress who was told by her director to move five paces to the left in order to say a particular line. When she asked what her motivation was for moving, he replied, "Your costume clashes with the scenery."

This particular source of conflict between actors and directors – the clash between the limited, subjective view of one particular character versus the bird's eye view of the needs of the production as a whole - is fundamental to theatre, so of course Michael Frayn couldn't leave it out of his classic Noises Off.. It's funny and it's spot on, and a shortened version is under the cut.
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