On What You Know

To add to yesterday’s post on being in the middle of the process: when I’m confused about what’s going on or can’t quite see the full picture, I try to focus on what I do know: This character wants to break up with his boyfriend but doesn’t know how. The next scene likely won’t happen in chronological order — how do I ensure it makes sense?

There’s something to be said about the universal coming from those kinds of specifics. If we take the time to look at the details and how they fit together, then we’re digging closer to a kernel of a much larger truth. Honesty in theatre is key if we want our audiences to see themselves reflected in the world we’re creating. That sort of connection happens when we look closely at the functions of small moments.

The small moments we’re left with in our confusion about the piece as a whole can ultimately lead to larger revelations. This character doesn’t know how to break up with his boyfriend because he’s scared, because he doesn’t want to hurt him, because it’s too similar to something in his past… Aha! That something in his past is his driving force, and that results in this event later on, blah blah blah.

It can be a useful exercise, when bogged down by your confusion with your own work, to focus on what you do know. There’s a beautiful truth in there somewhere that may help you unfold the rest.

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