The Soul of the Drama

Plays have to be lived to be written. This much I know.

 

If a character’s heart is broken, the playwright’s heart must be the first to go.  So be willing to live and relive the struggle and loss and hope that drama is made on, because if you refuse to feel these things, you can never write authentically.

 

Dare to suffer.

 

Dare to endure.

 

Endure the sense of inadequacy that comes from slogging through scenes that aren’t working and can’t work and won’t work. Choke back the panic of not knowing how to get started or how to stop, or how to fix that dreadful scene or how to fall out of love with those six lines you know just cannot stay and yet you need them, surely you need them, at least for now.

Have faith that the answer will come, in time. Believe that one morning as you awaken, the solution will  float up out of your subconscious and settle into your mind.

 

Endure.

 

And dare to question.

 

Always question.

 

For at the heart of every good drama lies that burning question, as we know. And yet the great questions can never be dealt with on a grand scale. To understand the forces at work in our culture and our world, we need to dive deeply into the most human of impulses—greed, ambition, fear, cowardice, selfishness, pride—and the need to connect to something much larger than the self.

 

These impulses can only be examined  through stories of flawed and humbled men and women caught up in forces far beyond their power to control or even to understand.  This, above all, is the unifying theme of my work.  For of this one thing am I certain: We are not in charge of our destinies. We have no say in where we came from, how we were shaped by the forces of love or fear that ruled our families, nor the economic winds that eroded the hopes of our parents, the disappointments that gnawed at their souls, the losses that numbed them, left them unable to see past their own pain to our needs.

 

We have nothing to say about the raw material of our lives.

 

We have been granted certain liabilities and certain gifts and it is to us to make use of them, but there are no guarantees that our labors will be rewarded nor our talents recognized. What we can do is wrestle control of our craft, make the work a priority and refuse to remain silent about it. That is all we can do.

 

In the end, we have no power over what will come. We can only control what we do.

 

And if the fates are kind, they will answer us.

 

 

 

One thought on “The Soul of the Drama

  1. This is spot on — a great post. I forwarded it to the general writing group I facilitate. It applies to the deep process of writing many genres (although I think drama asks more of us, because there is less distance from the process, at least for me.)

    Bravo, DW

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