The Playwright’s Commandments


Dear playwrights: Understand us.

Why is theatre not as respected in Los Angeles as it is in New York or Chicago? There are several reasons. One of them may be you, the playwrights. As much credit as you deserve for creating some amazing roles for us to bring to life, there are still a few of you that keep getting in the way. Stop it.

If you are a playwright in L.A., please make a stickie of the following next to the Final Draft icon on your desktop:

The Playwright’s Commandments As Written By The Actor

  1. Thou shalt not question the actor’s “reading” of a line. We have justified our actions with the previous moment in mind. Do not question it. We will question it enough on our own. Even after the play closes.
  2. Thou shalt not continue rewrites during the run of the play. Especially after it’s already been up a couple of weeks. You had your chances during read-throughs and rehearsals. You cannot simply go changing a line without us having to alter our backstory. This takes time. This makes you look like an amateur. This makes us wacko.
  3. Thou shalt not give notes once the play goes up. We do not want to chat 5 minutes to curtain. We want to sweat and vomit and think about our substitutions. Your job ended on opening night. The play is in our hands now. Deal with it, and move on.

If you are a playwright and you violate any of these commandments, you will be detained and re-educated as a production assistant on the next installment of Tila Tequila’s A Shot At Love. Probably craft services.

Yeah, we’re that serious. Consider this a warning.

Photo of Jason Hillhouse and David Hussey in Cold Coffee & Turtle Soup, Now Playing the Avery Schreiber Theatre Through July 20

4 Responses to “The Playwright’s Commandments”

  1. 1 ginayates

    You = my hero.

  2. 2 Jason

    This is what I do. Vote for me when I run for Mayor.

  3. Jason – I’ve acted in Broadway shows where the playwright was doing re-writes during the early run of the show, usually in previews, but however long it takes before, actor, director, writer and producer are as satisfied as they can be. Yes, that’s right, I said ACTOR, as well.

    As a playwright, with a new play, I always warn everyone involved that they could be given lines an hour before the show. Is it comfortable? No. Is it easy? No. Is it necessary? Sometimes.

    At some point the writer has to stop, yes, but a new play must always be allowed to continue to evolve during the inagural run. Every professional actor I’ve ever worked with know this – and usually is accomodating.

    As a matter of fact, during many productions, the actor would come to me (usually this would only happen when I was director/writer – I always allow the director to be the proper channel for ANY notes)and discuss a line here or there. On many cases they made the line better. Boom. Made the change.

    Hell, in the end i get the credit for the brilliant line – but it came about from the collaboration.

    Pop on by for more infuriating thoughts and ideas.

    Relentlessly yours,
    Colin Mitchell

    P.S. If you think of it, would love to be added to your honorable blog roll. Many thanks either way.

  4. My e-mail was wrong. Carry on.

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