Friday, September 17, 2010

Writing the solo show, pt.5: Live the story

One of my pet peeves with monodramas is when the performer tells me a story in the past tense. 

If I’m sitting in the audience in any play and I hear an actor say “I remember when…” it makes me cringe. 

We must not forget one of the qualities which makes theatre unique:

Theatre is present tense.

We don’t want you to “tell a story”. 

We want to see you live through a story in front of our eyes.

Oedipus Rex is not about what happened (even if it is set in Greek times).  As the audience, we watch the inevitable doom happen to Oedipus before our eyes.  We witness it.  It is in the witnessing of the events that we gain catharsis, or knowledge, or just sheer pleasure (if watching a guy gauge his eyes out is your kind of thing...I'm not judging.).

However, having said that, you are likely to write part of your solo show in the past tense, especially as you initially write things down.  That’s okay.  Most of the stuff I’ve been writing has been a lot of memories and stories in the past tense.  There are ways to dramatize it, put it in the present moment.  After I get all of the raw material down, then I’ll start to work on that.

Ultimately you don't want to create a piece of literature.  You want a performance.  You can only do one  thing a time, though.  First, write some text, then build a performance out of that.  

Live the story, don't tell the story.  


Bradetta said...

More please!

Dennis said...

more is coming! Stay tuned for more thoughts on the solo show in 2011!