September 9, 2009

Writers and Readers

Bill Sheat             posted 7 Sep 2009, 02:34 PM / edited 7 Sep 2009, 05:41 PM

There are successful Writers’ and Readers’ Weeks in Auckland and Wellington. But plays and playwrights are not included. Is not a playwright a writer? Is not a reader of plays a reader? Is not an audience member in effect a person to whom a play is in a sense being read? Equally our screenwrighters are writers. I was reminded of this when I attended a session at Te Papa when Ken Duncum interviewed Phillipa Boyens to a full house.I would like to hear the organisers’ of these Writers’ and Readers’ events rationalisation for snubbing our playwrights and screenwriters.

Michael Smythe                posted 7 Sep 2009, 03:42 PM / edited 7 Sep 2009, 03:44 PM

Interesting question Bill. Does the answer lie in the spelling? Playwrights’ words are not written for audiences to read on the page. (Neither are screenwriters’, so why aren’t they called screenwrights?)

But, I hear you cry, audiences don’t read musical scores either.

So, I retort, would you like writers of music included in Writers’ and Readers’ Festivals too?

Shane Bosher     posted 7 Sep 2009, 04:59 PM

This is not always the case. Both Roger Hall and Toa Fraser talk about their work and careers at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival in recent years.

sam trubridge    posted 9 Sep 2009, 11:53 AM

Meyerhold writes in his 1912 ‘The Fairground Booth’, reacting to colleagues like Stanislavski and Chekhov’s work and the notion of ‘the well made play’.

“The readers themselves can go up on to the stage and read the dialogue of their favourite author role-by-role out loud to the public. This is what is meant by ‘an affectionate rendering of the play’. No time has been lost in finding a name for the reader turned actor, for now we have the term ‘the intellectual actor’. The Same deathly hush prevails in the auditorium as in the reading-room of a library and it sends the public to sleep. The reading-room of a library is the only proper place for gravity and immobility”.

I laugh when he says “In order to make a dramatist out of a storyteller who writes for the stage, it would be a good idea to make him write a few pantomimes. The pantomime is a good antidote against the excessive misuse of words. Only let the new author not fear that we want to deprive him altogether of the right to speak on stage. He will be permitted to put words into the actors’ mouths, but first he must produce a scenario of movement. How long will it be before they inscribe in the theatrical tables the following law:  words in the theatre are only embellishments on the design of movement?”

Almost 100 years old, I would say that Meyerhold’s statements are still often very relevant.

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