Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Death Be Not Loud
So I wrote a play, Death Be Not Loud, a very short one-act thing, and I submitted it to a local community theater, and it was accepted along with nine others. I think it was taken because of the unashamedly cribbed title.
I think it may run about ten minutes long. I feel somewhat confident about it, but the notion that it will now be passed on to someone I have never met who will put his imprimatur on it, is sort of strange. And then, of course, half-a-dozen actors will interpret my words according to the director’s guidelines and I suspect I will not recognize the thing by the time it’s staged.
Just for the record, in case this turns into something staggeringly depressing like Death of a Salesman or King Lear (no, no, no, I am not comparing myself either to Shakespeare or to Arthur Miller. Sheesh.) let me say here that I wrote my play lightheartedly, tongue in cheek, and all that. As the French might say, C’est pour rire—it is to laugh.
I have been told in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed to have any contact with the man who will be director. So I can’t suggest that the sigh on line ten be really heartfelt and meaningful, or that the character on page six should recite his lines in a certain manner to get a well-deserved laugh. There is as well a sort of theatrical restraining order against me having anything to do with the actors.
I’ve also learned that dialogue in novels has little to do with dialogue for a play. I’m not sure if I can pinpoint the reasons for this odd dichotomy, but I’ve recounted it with wonder to theater friends who have yawned. This is apparently common knowledge to everyone but me.
I’ve never had anything staged. The stuff I write—novels, non-fiction books, the occasional magazine or newspaper story, blogs—is meant to be read quietly and just as quietly forgotten. I’ve done scripts for a couple of United Nations documentaries but these were without actors, if you don’t count the developing country kids cavorting and mugging for the camera. So the very notion of even having my words read aloud is odd. (Disconcerting might be a better word. But electrifying as well!)
A couple of years ago, a ridiculous bilingual existential piece I wrote for a friend got a reading, and that was pretty exciting. I figure Death Be Not Loud should be even more so. I’ll note here that said friend is now in California successfully directing. I am relatively sure my play reading had absolutely nothing to do with her success, but then again, you never know.