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 Posted: Fri Dec 17th, 2010 12:43 pm
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solarcirclegirl
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Mana: 
I've never come across this phrase before but I am submitting to a theatre that wants this in the cover letter:


brief description of authorial intent


What is that? Is it similar to a brief synopsis? Or is it more like what message I want to get across with the play? Or both?

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 Posted: Fri Dec 17th, 2010 03:50 pm
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Shanahan
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"My intent is for you to pay me one million dollars for my play. Kindly comply forthwith."

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 Posted: Fri Dec 17th, 2010 09:58 pm
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carlblong
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My impressions is that it's the message of the play, the themes, subjects, etc. it explores  "Why did you write this play?", more or less.

Not 100% sure, though.

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 Posted: Sat Dec 18th, 2010 08:03 am
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in media res
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My interpretation is just bureaucratic horses shit. Might as well go back to the Soviet Union and ask what is the purpose of your "art" and the effect upon the state.

I'd put down, "To write a good play," and leave it at that.

No explanation is needed for your play.

Several years ago there was a question on a grant I applied for about "What is the playwright's purpose in writing this play?" (I actually applied on a lark just to see if I would get anything. Mind you the play eventually went on to win 6 national awards.)

Now, I know there were paragraphs, maybe tomes, if not at least pages written exploring all the aspects of this question from many playwrights.

I simply wrote...and I suggest you all should copy this in some way in your own words: "The only function of the playwright is to complete the work"

It must have thrown them for a loop, because I was awarded $7,500 for it.

So, I would suggest you say, "My authorial intent is (or was) to complete my work (or play.)" Or some such thing.

Don't get loopy about nebulous questions that are asked. The simpler your answers the better. Don't get "artsy fartsy" or "sensitive" or "educational" or any other of the bureaucratic B.S. Just tell the truth. It is most refreshing to read.

The more you write about trying to explain yourself, the more you will confuse them. And bury your chances.

Think "Show Business" not "non-profit grant money." Believe me on this, they are all looking for a "hit play" to move their own prestige along.

Always remember: that first reader and second reader and third reader is always trying to find the next great (or at least good ) play. I can not emphasize this too much. Don't put too much info between you and their actual reading of your play. Writing too much in explanation will hurt you more than help you. If you have to "explain" your play, you have already lost. (I have been a reader for competitions, trust me on this. I just want to read the play. And, yes, I have picked the eventual winner a couple of times with my being a front-line reader. Finalists as well.) Just let your play speak for itself. Your play is the best medicine for the reader. Not your "explanation" or our play.

best,

in media res

best,

in media res

Last edited on Sat Dec 18th, 2010 08:12 am by in media res

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 Posted: Sat Dec 18th, 2010 01:55 pm
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solarcirclegirl
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Shanahan wrote: "My intent is for you to pay me one million dollars for my play. Kindly comply forthwith."

Bahahahah! LOVE IT!

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 Posted: Sat Dec 18th, 2010 01:56 pm
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solarcirclegirl
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carlblong wrote: My impressions is that it's the message of the play, the themes, subjects, etc. it explores  "Why did you write this play?", more or less.

Not 100% sure, though.

I was thinking it was more along that lines, and I frakking hate that! I understand that THEY want to understand where I was coming from as a writer, but good lord, do I have to write them a frakking essay on the intent of my play?

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 Posted: Sat Dec 18th, 2010 01:59 pm
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solarcirclegirl
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in media res

I am going to go with what you are saying here. See, I frakking hate that question, and while I understand that they probably use it to weed out the plays they don't want (especially if it's a theatre, for example, that is looking for LGBTQ plays and the intent of someone writing the play is to show that that lifestyle is wrong, then yeah, I can understand that, but who would send a play like that to a theatre requesting the very thing the play is against, but that's another story and this parenthetical is already WAY too long!). But really, I think you are right on it here.

Sometimes I write a play with a specific intent in mind, but that is actually rare. I usually let the play show me what it's trying to say. And I get my plays from 'out there'. And I think that THAT explanation would serve to scare and confuse them. So I will definitely go with your idea.

Thank you!

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 Posted: Sat Dec 18th, 2010 02:49 pm
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Paddy
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Jeeze.

Beyond "I needed to tell this story," what do they need. I really believe if you can get the idea of your play across in one kick-ass sentence, that's really valuable.

How many more hoops?

Paddy

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 Posted: Sat Dec 18th, 2010 04:49 pm
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carlblong
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solarcirclegirl wrote: carlblong wrote: My impressions is that it's the message of the play, the themes, subjects, etc. it explores  "Why did you write this play?", more or less.

Not 100% sure, though.

I was thinking it was more along that lines, and I frakking hate that! I understand that THEY want to understand where I was coming from as a writer, but good lord, do I have to write them a frakking essay on the intent of my play?

I frakking hate that, too.  That's the director's job, to discover author's intent.   Most of the time I write, I have no idea what my intent is, unless it's to tell a story about x, or to play around with something structure-specific.  Either way, it's not the way a director will or should look at it.

It is bullshit and patronizing and lazy.  Let the director figure it out.  Any play that needs further explanation from the author isn't a good one.

I have directed my plays on several occasions, and I usually surprise myself.  What I thought my play was about when I wrote it turned out to be wrong or weak, and I found something better in the plays looking through a directorial lens.

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 Posted: Sun Dec 19th, 2010 02:21 am
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spiny norman
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as part of a submission process, i was asked, "why did you write this play?"

i answered, "to give actresses some kick-ass parts."

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 Posted: Sun Dec 19th, 2010 11:21 am
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mrcollin
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My intention is always the same:
I am trying to find the right words to tell the story well.
Happy Holidays, MRC

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