Yesterday’s Sunday giveaway was for two tickets to Zach Braff’s new comedy at Second Stage.  As I was ‘giving it away,’ I started thinking about how surprised I was to hear that Zach Braff had a new comedy at Second Stage.

But why?

There have been a lot of actors that have written plays before.

But in my opinion, there should be more.

What’s unique about writing a play as opposed to writing a novel, short story, poem, etc. is that a play is not meant to be read on the page.  It is meant to be performed on a stage.

Therefore, an actor/writer, whose job it is to interpret written dialogue and turn it into the spoken word, may have an advantage over the writer who doesn’t have performance experience.

A writer who writes a line like, “Hey, can you turn on the AC, it’s hotter than the devil’s breath in here,” may not see or hear as many things in the line as someone familiar with the turns and twists an actor could take with the same line.

As a re-read what I’ve written here, it’s beginning to sound like a sweeping generalization that playwrights can’t be great unless they have walked upon the wicked stage as well as written.  That’s obviously not true.

My point is, that more actors should write . . . because they may get it more than they think.  (Come on actors out there, I know you have ideas . . . start one today!)

And more writers should act.  At any level.  It’s not going to guarantee any type of career.

But I’d bet money that it would help.

 

 

(Got a comment?  I love ‘em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

—————-

FUN STUFF

- 73 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

- Enter to win 2 tickets to All New People by Zach Braff Off-Broadway!  Click here.

 

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13 Responses to Why more actors should write plays.

  1. Bryce says:

    See anyone from Steppenwolf… or Tracy Letts. They get it.
    I also find it really interesting when designers write. I’ve found that it yields worlds that they wish to explore in a story that is complex or plays up certain aspects of technology or art.

  2. Pia Wilson says:

    You’re killing me here. Writing is a craft just like acting is a craft. It takes study and dedication and is not something to be entered into lightly. I know a lot of actor/writers and there are some who are really talented and there are some who just want to write parts for themselves and their friends. The talented actor/writers are actors and writers – not actors who have scriptwriting software.
    There are plenty of excellent writers out there who need the time and space to develop their work, and they can’t get that commitment because producers are looking for shinier pennies (like TV actors with a brand name who also fancy themselves a writer … not necessarily talking about Mr. Braff).
    I wouldn’t dare pollute the stage with my profoundly bad acting, mostly because I wouldn’t want to rob a talented actor of the chance to practice their craft. I would hope an actor would provide the same courtesy to me and other playwrights.

  3. Kristi R-C says:

    I love it when an actor writes because he understands that those words have to be spoken by an actor, clearly understood by an audience member and have content that moves the play forward in some way. I know I’m a better stagehand and producer because I’ve been onstage and in the pit.
    Richard Niederberg runs LA Designers’ theatre and has a fascinating way of working with the designers coming before the actors. I prefer to work with multi-talented folks. Luckily, there are many in this biz!

  4. Lynn Marie Macy says:

    Like Shakespeare – one of the first actor/writers! Acting is certainly a way of expressing oneself ( even when using another’s words) Becoming a playwright is the another step in the process of finding ones voice. Actors have a solid theatrical foundation and those with the skill and inclination (It is a LOT of work) can make great playwrights!

  5. Kevin says:

    Hmmm, interesting. However, I also wish actors would read more. And not just about acting or the theatre. Be informed about the world and other things.

  6. David says:

    I gave up acting a few years ago after doing years of plays and improv because I was getting bored with it and (frankly) was getting bad at memorizing lines. As a playwright, I feel I can do MORE for actors because I know how to write for them and showcase them to the best of their abilities. I think a playwright who was “been there, done that” can truly understand what actors go through.

  7. janiska says:

    Pia, I agree.
    Actors “can” write, but only a few should.
    From a purely physiological perspective, acting and writing originate in different areas of the brain. And just as exercise develops stronger muscles/skills in the areas most used, exercise of any area of the brain develops the skills of that area, often to the detriment of the other areas.
    Writing, like acting is a brain skill best developed through use. Actors think anyone can write whereas writers think anyone can act. Instead of more actors writing, perhaps more writers should act. Having acted and having written, I know there are actors who are better because they do it more and I know I am a better writer because I do it more.
    About anyone can write a few cute lines, but it takes more than lines to make a great play. A great play comes from juggling dozens of issues simultaneously. Lazier writers may disagree, but the most satisfying plays and musicals are long poems organized around an inciting incident, a dramatic question, simultaneous character and plot development with a through line, a crisis, climax and resolution, all proving a theme.
    Having seen a lot of plays written by actors and even having acted in a few, I’m convinced writing and acting are equally important and very different. Few do either well and almost none do both well. Perhaps good actors should focus on developing their acting skill while writers should focus on developing their writing skills. Only a very few can or should focus on both.

  8. Eva says:

    I’ve acted. I’ve written plays,but what I like best is being a theatre critic. I’d rather see a play then be in one now. I’ve always thought that ideally Critics
    should make the most interesting Playwright’s as they see tons of plays and they know what works and what doesn’t. George Shaw was also a very erudite critic
    to prove my point.
    Charles Busch is an excellent Actor/Writer.Charles Ludlum could do both as well. Is it easier with Comedies I wonder.

  9. Bryan david says:

    Dear Fellow Performing Artists:
    As an Actor,(2 years at The Actor’s Workshop & Emerson College attendee here in Boston, MA) I was told by my Mentor Frank Storce that as much as I enjoyed acting in my heart lay a Playwright. Since I perfected my technical abilities as an Actor, I also learned the crafts of Lighting, Make-up design as well as Directing. “Go home an write an outline for a play.” I wrote my 1st one-act play. I have since written the Book & Lyrics to 12 Two-Act musicals; found a Composer/Collaborator recorded 18 demos and submitted a musical to Mr. Davenport & I am awaiting his review. Maybe I’m bias but I agree, Actors make better Playwrights! Signed Bryan David, Playwright & Lyricist.
    http://www.myspace.com/jacktheripperwhitechapel1888
    Options & Inquires: Thomas P. Lane, Esq. (212) 294-6869

  10. Bryan David says:

    Dear Fellow Performing Artists:
    As an Actor,(2 years at The Actor’s Workshop & Emerson College attendee here in Boston, MA) I was told by my Mentor Frank Storce that as much as I enjoyed acting in my heart lay a Playwright. Since I perfected my technical abilities as an Actor, I also learned the crafts of Lighting, Make-up design as well as Directing. “Go home an write an outline for a play.” I wrote my 1st one-act play. I have since written the Book & Lyrics to 12 Two-Act musicals; found a Composer/Collaborator recorded 18 demos and submitted a musical to Mr. Davenport & I am awaiting his review. Maybe I’m bias but I agree, Actors make better Playwrights! Signed Bryan David, Playwright & Lyricist.
    http://www.myspace.com/jacktheripperwhitechapel1888
    Options & Inquires: Thomas P. Lane, Esq. (212) 294-6869

  11. Aileen says:

    I am not an actor, nor am I a writer; I am merely one who appreciates, supports & encourages anyone brave enough to engage in those endeavors (& others). I am disappointed at the responses by some here who are obviously threatened by Ken’s suggestion that more actors try their hand at writing. I’m jaw droppingly stunned at a mindset that believes actors should refrain from writing out of “courtesy” to “real” playwrights. Mr. Davenport isn’t saying every actor would make a phenomenal playwright just as every playwright wouldn’t make a phenomenal actor, but there are always lessons learned when attempting unchartered waters and once in awhile when an actor is “discourteous” enough to try his pen, there is a Sam Shepard, a David Mamet and yes, a William Shakespeare. If we left playwriting to only the “professional” playwrights, there never would have been a WIT.

    • Lucian says:

      I agree also.

      I don’t think it has anything to do with “courtesy” for each others profession. I think if you have a desire to do something, then do it. If you Act and wish to write also, then do! Whether it is any good, who knows, but if it is, somebody will notice, and at the end of the day, if it is a good story, it doesn’t matter whether it came from the pen of a “writer” or an “actor”. A good story, is a good story no matter the origin, and ANYONE is capable of achieving this. Somebody who has never wrote, or acted could still pick up a pen, and write, and write and write, and over years become a great and successful playwright. Who is to say Actors cannot do the same? Everyone has to start somewhere. Why limit yourself to just one creative output?

      I agree, not every Actor CAN write, but every Actor should have the opportunity to choose to do so, and find out if they can.

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