for moments of catastrophic failure

I’ve been working on a new play for the last year or so. This past weekend, I assembled a cast of actors to sit and read the script for the first time.

It was awful.

While the feedback I received was invaluable, the consensus from those in the room was that the play was a failure. Despite this, I consider the reading a tremendous success, simply because I learned a few things:

  • Avoid two people talking about a third person at all costs. This is not conflict and does not propel the story. This is a lazy means of providing exposition.
  • Don’t seek to plow ground that’s been plowed already. Do what you do the way you do it. An attempt to be someone else is worthless. You are enough.
  • Be as specific as possible. The most interesting moments are the details of your own life, the things no one else has encountered or experienced. Painting with too broad a brush makes for a hazy picture.
  • Never let your characters off easy. Put them through the worst hell you can imagine. Each moment of conflict must touch their core fear, the place they hurt the most.
  • Find the balance between setting a deadline and allowing the work to come to you naturally. All creative work must be nurtured. Trying to force your work to completion will only damage it.