Tuesday, January 24, 2017

David Auburn speaks

Taking the C train home - gotta love back-lighting
I went to David Auburn's "master seminar" the other day, sponsored by Primary Stages. I got the heads-up on that thanks to Primary Stages being one of the most reliable advertisers on the NYCPlaywrights web site.

Who is David Auburn? The author of the Pulitzer Prize-winnng PROOF. I don't like every play that wins the PP but I am a big fan of this one - the plot is tight and clever. I'm actually surprised it won the Prize, it seems too well-made to be the kind of thing the Pulitzer judges go for.

PROOF is a well-crafted 3-act play for four actors and one set. It's kind of the perfect play for these theatrical times for those technical reasons alone. But in addition to its technical virtues, it has a subtle but very real feminist message. You can see the movie version starring Gyneth Paltrow. Watch the trailer here.

The seminar was basically people, most of whom were younger than me, asking Auburn questions, usually dreary careerist questions so it wasn't as good as I had hoped. But there were some highlights including Auburn claiming he got a sexual charge out of editing text out of his plays.

More useful was his discussion of the Julliard workshop he had taken with Marsha Norman, and what she said about writing plays -according to Auburn she said you need to tell the audience when they are going home in the first 10 minutes. Or in other words, what has to happen for the play to end.

I was pretty pleased about this because I am currently in rehearsals for my NORMA JEANE play and on page 5 I have Norma Jeane ask if she can use the phone and the doctor won't allow her. That is the basic quest for Norma Jeane, to get to the telephone so she can call someone to come and get her out of there.

The thing that worries me though, is that for all their good advice and ideas - and talent - neither Auburn nor Norman seem to have much work out there now.