On Writing : Unwriting by Animesh Karna


My last play was produced as part of a playwriting seminar. As we were approaching the start of rehearsals, the person running the seminar asked me to do something: remove most of the directions in the script. Just strip it out and let the actors figure it out. Is the character happy here? Is the character nervous there? Is the character aroused? Let the actors figure it out. It goes further than just removing directions from the script. Does the character say "I'm very angry right now"? Or do we get that? I termed this process "Unwriting", and the results were amazing . . . not only did the actors get where I was going in the script, but they took things to unexpected places.

D Marcus

That's good advice you got there. As a playwright and artistic director of a theater company I have found working with actors to be a rewarding experience. I give the the setting, the story, the skeleton of the character and the words and they find the heart of their characters. Allowing actors to build on a skeleton allows them to be part of the process. And challenges me as a writer.

Animesh Karna

Putting on a play is a collaborative process. As the playwright, I take the first step in the vision, but I believe that it can't be the only step. I have a philosophy: as the playwright, I've seen the play "my way" in my head, a few million times. Why would I want to see that on the stage? That's boring! I want to see what other people bring to this work!

David Chase

Between the first and second draft of my play I took out ten pages of stage directions, stuff I'd put in originally to help me visualize the flow of the show. When it was produced, I wasn't part of the rehearsal process, but when I saw the show I was amazed at how close they had come to what I envisioned. I think a good script will do that. On the other hand, maybe I was just lucky.

D Marcus

For me the wonderful thing about being a playwright is to see how different directors and actors envision my plays. I love seeing a vision of a play that I didn't think of as I was writing. In a way I'm almost disappointed if they present the play in the way I envisioned it. I love to be surprised and challenged.

Joseph Weisnewski

I have been involved in many stage productions. Usually as a music director or composer. In my opinion the most successful results occur when the director and cast can feel empowered to make their own discoveries within the script. When a script is micro-managed the production often becomes stilted.

Charles Rule

For me, that's the beauty of theater, when you allow yourself the freedom to let the story take you, wonderful moments of magic ignite.

Frances Macaulay Forde

Just think with every direction you are actually 'walling in' the character. Unless of course it is vital to the plot, don't direct.

Nancy Fulton

This varies from writer to writer. Many actors will cross out action instructions in a script . . . after reading them :) Because they want to know what you had in mind but they don't want to be limited to that interpretation of their character.

Ken Belsky

Thankyou all for all this. I just finished the first rouph (vomit) draft of my first screenplay and its long!! and there's whole lot of screen direction. I have read this same information from half a dozen different "experts" in the writing profession as well. , and they all say the same thing. There goes 10 pages! www.bryankent.com

Frances Macaulay Forde

...I also think it's really exciting if others who make up the team who will take your story and characters from the page to the screen, have room to add light and shade too.

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