It has seemed to me for some time now that directors have imposed an unspoken rivalry on their relationships with authors--as though the point of a performance is who will win the evening. It is as though the director feared nothing more than to disappear behind the author's play. When a director feels he has to layer his
own images over my text, I suspect he is trying to subject our relationship to a democratic principle, to win a battle that need never be fought. There is no question, of course, that the wonder of the moment belongs to the director! Without the magic of transformation, a play would never come to life--I often feel that interpretive choices that seem to contradict my plays are inspiring and, in the end, essential.
Some time ago I added the following clause to the contract for an upcoming premiere of one of my plays: "Music may only be added in consultation with the author." This wasn't meant as a threat; I had had a previous unpleasant experience regarding music and wanted to draw attention to the play as an independent score. The clause caused an outrage at the theater in question, as though I had
crossed a line that was not mine to cross, as though I wanted to shake the very foundations of theater. It wasn't merely that no author had ever demanded something so impudent. I was admonished that the clause represented an attempt to intervene in the artistic freedom of directors!
I didn't hesitate to remove the offending language. I didn't suffer or even feel that I was giving in. I secretly thought that the clause, having been forcibly excised, was even more dangerous in its absence. At the same time, I couldn't get the phrase out of my head. I had not heard the demand for artistic freedom in this manner in a long time, certainly not in connection with my plays.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Playwright Makes a Small Request - Upsets Applecart
Theresia Walser, a well-received and emerging playwright in Germany writes: