The Rewriting Blues
Recently I’ve been feeling the rewriting blues. So I e-mailed my friend Enrique Urueta about what to do. He said I needed to fall in love with my play again and suggested the following exercises.
1) Writing in my journal about the play, why this play, why now, why it matters to me, what prompted this play in the first place. Get back to the root of it so you can find your way back.
2) Diagram your play. Break it down visually all the actions that happen and make sure each action leads to another action. This helps me see where things are hiccuping in my play.
3) Make rewriting manageable. Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish and pick one at a time. Hang the list up and cross things off. It’s a nice visual reminder.
4) Make rewriting fun. Give yourself fun things to do with your characters. Write random scenes with your characters that have nothing to do with your play at all. This helps with voice and getting to know them a little better. Take certain scenes and write them so that there is no subtext–write the worst scene you can in the most melodramatic way. You’ll get so lost in the silly of it that you’ll surprise yourself when your character says something so heart breakingly honest. Write the offstage scenes. If there’s a gap between one scene in the next that we don’t see–write what happens in that offstage time. That’ll help inform your next scene. And what I’ve always ALWAYS found to be true–if you’ve got a problem on page 40, the answer isn’t in pages 30-40, but 1-10. Take a look at your beginning and make sure your set up is tight.
Enrique Urueta is a queer Colombian-American playwright who splits his heart between San Francisco and South Boston, Virginia. His plays include The Johnson Administration (Impact Theatre), Learn To Be Latina (also Impact Theatre), Forever Never Comes (Crowded Fire Theater Company) and The Danger of Bleeding Brown, which David Hare selected as a runner-up for the 2009 Yale Drama Series Award. The SF Weekly recently named him Best Up-And-Coming Playwright in their Best of San Francisco 2010 awards, and Southern Theatre Magazine named him one of “40 Groundbreaking Playwrights” who are “changing the U.S. theatre.” Despite the best efforts of both institutions, he holds a B.A. in theatre from The College of William and Mary and a MFA in playwriting from Brown University. Find him on facebook or email him or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.