Playwright at work blog by Kate Aksonova.


    Understanding the stage. Week 3.
    Language. Week 4.
    Setting. Week 5.
    Website. Week 6.

      Website. Week 6.


      In lot of reading about play writing also were some articles how should looks like playwright’s website. It was most challenging part for me of how about to write plays, it’s about how to represent your work.

      I think it’s important step in creative process. So today’s post is about it.

      First what I learned it’s that I do everything wrong. Any full text on-line. Amazing. You have to be more mysterious for your reader. And only if person wants full text, s/he should ask for it. I had deep thinking about it. They are absolutely right and correct, but my answer is no.

      No, I will still put on-line texts of plays. But I have no idea what to do with place on web-site, maybe will experiment further with compressing files, or something like this.

      I use internet for so many years, that I don’t believe that you could protect some kind of work from internet. Best protection is to write text in paper notebook and leave it in the box in your wardrobe. No one will use it, you could be calm. In other way everything could be find on-line for free, if you spend enough time for search. So better if you give such possibility with own hands.

      To that story also is get paid for reading texts. Inspiring, till you didn’t research real money which you should use for promoting, complicated choose proper price and even not mention Ukrainian’s bank system. Also are tax rules where you will pay monthly, no matter if you earned enough or not. Perhaps I perverted, but I believe that playwright should earn money from own plays on stage, not for reading. I could be wrong, I don’t deny it.

      There is suggestion that you should write less about yourself and don’t mention what else you could do. Of course, I could not mention that illustrations are made by me, but I am old enough to be responsible of results of my creative acts.

      Site should look good on mobile phones is interesting idea, but I think it’s strange, that someone will read a play on mobile phone. My decision, never mind.

      A lot of ideas how should look your site. I think it’s like give suggestion which curtains should have your bedroom. It’s your choice, because you will see it daily in morning and in evening. Story about choosing colours I won’t repeat. At first you experiment, choose different, listen to advices and later just work with what you have.

      Story about that free domain sites or services with your name after slash also will look proper is not exactly true. I had such experience. Only own name, not free or it will be always part of negative emotions over your work. If you are serious, you should have proper address. Not always office on the main business street, but not attic of your home.

      One interesting idea, it’s not to have too much different blogs, connect all your writing in one place. I will think about it for October. I could divide each creative activity, but in reality they are connected and have one goal of finishing next new project.

      Now websites are part of every artist daily work. It’s like our home and we should pay attention to it. Now came such time that you can’t be only artist in the world of ideas, you should represent yourself and your work, because of this internet presence of author is part of every creative course.



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      Setting. Week 5.


      Setting or where to put your story.

      This crucial question I analyze even before bring on stage all characters. I don’t believe in white room where later could be add proper colours. I believe that this “where are you” is more important for beginning of the play. Curtain raised and you have no idea about names of characters, why they are here. But you see where it’s here.

      Setting is pain in shoulders for me, as playwright. I need to say no, strong no and frequently for lot of ideas. It should be put on stage, it has own rules. I can’t do what I want. Yes, I know that’s exist some kind of solution for my wild imagination and it has name as write a script. For now I have some kind of psychological border which can’t give me a freedom to open pdf books about screenwriting and learn how to do it. For me was difficult decision to start writing in English. Screenwriting is another aim, which scary me endlessly. But writing description in Present Simple such seductivelly attractive.

      Setting in play should have some impact. You should know why your characters will be there. Usually in some kind of room and you deside it should be home or other kind of room: office, library (lot of books on the stage one of my dream setting, but I can’t deside which story connect with it). Rarely I could put some plain air on stage, for busy street I still didn’t find a solution.

      Plein air as setting is what I like to accomplish more frequently. Of course, main reason is my passionate love affair with art. I try to put characters not in the walls of city. Some plays ago, I put my characters in the mountains, because it’s amazing experience of shadow and light, colours, clouds. But I need to explain why they are there and how.

      Plein air artist it’s something common. But it’s not easy for describing and putting on stage. Why? Easels. All plein air easels which are recognizable from photos are tiny and gentle. Artist walking with easel is romantic, but not real. It all weights a lot. And there are special advices, videos of comparing which easel is lighter and still could stand in the tiny wind. Garden trolley where you could put everything hadn’t enough creative association. Bicycle as moving apparatus more attractive, but also not enough storage place in the basket. Motorbike much attractive, you won’t tired so much, it has engine. But you better should had three wheels or four to put all what you sure will need or just when you will have mood for it on back seat, sometimes they are called cars.

      Such way I am thinking about each setting, I analyze it. Sometimes I could end like in paragraph above, in idea with plein air artist on bikes. With proper setting you know what kind of characters you need in this story. They are already alive. Helmets with stylised Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa on them. You see them, on sunset adding colour to the shadows of forest.

      Have you noticed the problem? It’s not a theatre play. Why? Because of setting. In such moments I start to build walls. Walls which will be borders for my story. I add windows, doors, curtains, think how many chairs I will need that it will look like real room, no matter that in theatre everything is “almost real”.

      If I can’t see this, I can’t see the story. I need to know where I am. In novel you will add maps, names of streets to not be lost around your story. Setting is also part of your story, like costumes of characters.

      I won’t make special post about costumes in play writing, but I need to say about something. Yesterday I was listening interview of one painter, it was on our radio. He interestingly talked about own paintings I even was ready to check if I right spelled his name and search his paintings online. Person was capturing, then after one opinion, he stop existed for me and I started to search which music is on other stations. His idea that costumes are not important and no one will be interested in costume without connection with story. Excuse me! Everyone has own opinion, but you said it aloud. I didn’t mention that there is such kind of art which few people recognize as fashion. But costumes is not interesting? Why there are books which helps to artist understand how to draw fabric. I can’t understand such “art” people. It’s clear arrogance. Now I feel better, because I like to spend time in researching costumes. Sad story with name “if I could draw clothes, shoes and people in general” won’t be in today’s post.

      Setting in theatre is problem of designer, but like I mentioned thousand times, I want to show what I see. I want to make invented world real and I made all this illustrations, because I need them, it’s my understanding of fiction.

      I think to setting playwright also should pay lot of attention. Not make it novel’s style, because there is theatre designer and s/he could see it differently. But as any kind of writer you should know your stage as your home. I don’t say that you should know where you put everything, but where put it your character to smoothly pick up everything in your setting.



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      Language. Week 4.


      It’s about language of telling stories for the theatre.

      My first thoughts wasn’t about theatre. They were about English like language to tell story. Painful experience for many years. Of course, it’s enormous level of stress – to write not on native language. In native language I also have doubts, because never sure that choose best possible word and revising only give power for that struggles.

      What we have in theatre it’s language which will sound like natural. I am quiet about dialogues. Every person has own favourite words, manner of creating sentence.

      Language as costume helps us to recognize person. I can’t add pronunciation from some region in English. But I always believed that cheap work of writer. In Ukrainian I use Lviv’s variation of language, because it’s not for joke, but to be more convincing, not artificial. You could put correct sentence, but instead use sentence which hear daily as answer.

      For good, not for bad you don’t need deep and long descriptions of nature in plays. All that “sun shined not like yesterday, today sun was green with violet shining around it.” I am glad that could complete or not text with picture, it brings some freedom.

      Language as characteristic is such attractive. There is always a wish to add foreign speaking person. It’s not always good idea, because you should to be sure what you are writing. Wish to be a polyglot is best wish ever, but has own backfires, you could add mistakes or sound not polite when mocking someone else word preference.

      In theatre we need to give all necessary information, without hope that spectator as reader could return to the beginning. In theatre stories more than in any writing you should give information what is necessary now and don’t give ideas which won’t end somehow. You also should aware of spectators who are attentive and will remember everything about what was told.

      It’s not my strongest point in storytelling. I choose to say less, for not sound not competent.



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      Understanding the stage. Week 3.


      Probably it should be on first week. Understanding the stage, difference it from other media. But I write it now.

      I can’t say that since childhood wanted to be a playwright or actress. I just wrote. At school I acted in puppet’s theatre. Puppet’s theatre give you some safety. Not only that you put text somewhere, it’s just not you performing – but doll. You are just playing, say lines, move hand and only at the end you are in front of spectators. And for kids it’s difficult to understand what had in common you and doll which you keep in hand.

      First time I was curious about work of actors with terribly little stage and two classes of not interesting in performance teenagers. They played like didn’t hear noise which was produced. They tried to make performance, not best in their life, but tried to show connection between characters.

      And here stage was different they were present in room with bored kids and at the same time they have own story. It wasn’t film, where nothing is connected with what going on in seats in front of it. They changed voices, made pauses, they tried to work with spectators.

      Writing for stage is different from novel literature. You could read a novel and listen to the radio. Put book away and answer phone. On stage it’s performance made by real people about fictional story. You can’t return and reread who said what, story needs to move and made clear what’s going on. Of course, it’s a lot depends from characters, but about that not at this week.

      Mainly on courses they try to explain what is difference between stage and movie. Main here that in theatre you should have more trust in spectator’s imagination. In film there is close up’s, what we could see as each character’s eyes. In theatre spectator didn’t change chairs to be more involved. In theatre it’s story to which we are ready to believe, even when we see borders of stage.

      Play writing I think mainly based on trust. You create story, but this is just beginning. Playwright is most open to collaborate with other human beeing than any writer. Every playwright need other people, we need theatre. We could stay on literature’s shelves and ready that our work will be accompained with coffee mug. (I can picture that someone will read plays with glass of wine or whisky to boost imagination, but coffee is neutral.) To play be completelly real it should be played by actors, directed and you trust them, because if you are afraid of people, you can’t be connected with stage.



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