Today’s Gag

October 31, 2011

To purchase reprint and/or other rights for this cartoon, buy a framed print, or have it reproduced on T-shirts, mugs, aprons, etc., visit my archives at CartoonStock.com by clicking the sidebar link.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Sizemore.

Hip Shots

October 28, 2011

Wind

By Jim Sizemore

(Click images for larger views.)

The “Hip Shots” series of Doodlemeister.com photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise is to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method, the more frames  exposed the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting — a related series that can be arranged as a post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own pictures, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below. Meanwhile, click the “Hip Shots” tag above for many more examples. This feature will appear most Friday’s.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Sizemore.

Theresa Rebeck On Playwriting

October 26, 2011

Adapted from: Playwright Theresa Rebeck likes to tell stories

The Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2009

Here’s a plot: Two guys are waiting for somebody big and important to show up. That guy never shows up, but somebody else does. They go back to waiting, and then the tree grows. Here’s another plot: A lonely guy lives on a farm for a long time. He gets bored with his life. He gets a crush on his sister-in-law, and she gets a crush on his friend. Eventually, everyone goes home, only now all of them are even lonelier than they were before. Here’s another plot: A king divides his kingdom between two of his daughters. All hell breaks loose.

I think it goes without saying that young would-be playwrights in developmental workshops should be so lucky as to write plays as good as “Waiting for Godot,” “Uncle Vanya” or “King Lear,” none of which would have existed without a decent plot. Obviously a theatrical masterpiece needs more than a plot; many television shows are nothing but plot, and it is doubtful that they will stand the test of time. But I also don’t think that making fun of plot, or acting like we’re all somehow “above” structure is such a good idea.

Is this really a problem? Yes. I seem to be constantly confronted by theater professionals who are more or less annoyed by the prospect of structure. One time I was at a wedding reception, for crying out loud, and I got seated at a table with a really famous genius of the contemporary American theater who had directed a play I admired. He had deconstructed a well-known play but the essence of the original story was still there, and the artistry and strangeness of his interpretation was beautifully balanced within the original tale. When I told him so, he went into a drunken rage. “All that structure, all that story,” he growled, pouring himself more wine. “What a nightmare.”

Structure is not our enemy, it is the form that makes content possible; it is the meaning that holds the image and imbues it with specificity; specificity is not our enemy; intellect without heart is not more, it is less and in the theater sometimes less is just less. Contemporary playwrights don’t need to toss away all that has come before us, nor could we if we even tried.

Sometimes people ask me where my plays come from. Where do you get your ideas? I honestly don’t know where they come from, but I do know that if you start with a few characters who need something simple from each other, pretty soon you will find that what they need is not so simple, and that the play itself needs something larger as well. The writing reveals its deeper subject. The characters reveal themselves as they act on each other in time. Time, innately, has a structure. And a lot of really smart writers who came before me understood how to make art imitate life and reveal those deeper truths in beautiful ways.

It is also completely understood that it is totally fair to steal from those guys. We are in dialogue with Chekhov and Shakespeare and Moliere and Beckett too, and a well-told story, something they all celebrated, is nothing to sneer at.

This is one in a series that will post  on Wednesdays. If you’d like to read more about what people like Sam Shepard, Harold Pinter, Joyce Carol Oates and other famous — and not so famous — playwrights have to say about the art and craft of writing and directing plays, type “On Playwriting” into the small sidebar window and tap the “Search” button.


Today’s Gag

October 24, 2011

To purchase reprint and/or other rights for this cartoon, buy a framed print, or have it reproduced on T-shirts, mugs, aprons, etc., visit my archives at CartoonStock.com by clicking the sidebar link.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Sizemore.

Hip Shots

October 21, 2011

Blur V

By Jim Sizemore

(Click images for larger views.)

The “Hip Shots” series of Doodlemeister.com photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise is to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method, the more frames  exposed the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting — a related series that can be arranged as a post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own pictures, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below. Meanwhile, click the “Hip Shots” tag above for many more examples. This feature will appear most Friday’s.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Sizemore.

John Osborne On Playwriting

October 19, 2011

Adapted from: Playwrights On Playwriting

Edited by Toby Cole, Hill and Wang, New York, 1983

Part of my job is to try and keep people interested in their seats for about two and a half hours; it is a very difficult thing to do, and I am proud of having been even fairly successful at it.

They go to the theatre because the guvnor’s wife went on Monday night and said it was a jolly good show. I simply want to point out that my job has not been an easy one to learn, merely because I have had what looks like an easy success. I shall go on learning as long as there is a theatre standing in England, but I didn’t learn the job from the Daily Mail or the Spectator.

I want to make people feel, to give them lessons in feeling. They can think afterward.

Timing is an artistic problem. It is the prime theatrical problem. You can learn it, but it cannot be taught. It must be felt.

If you are any good at all at what you set out to do, you know whether it is good and rely on no one to tell you so.

It is not true to say that a play does not “come alive” until it is actually in performance. Of course it comes alive — to the man who has written it, just as those three symphonies must have come alive to Mozart . . .

At every performance of any of my plays, there are always some of these deluded pedants, sitting there impatiently, waiting for the plugs to come singing in during natural breaks in the action. If the texture is too complex, they complain that too much is going on for them to follow. There they sit, these fashionable turnips, the death’s head of imagination and feeling, longing for the interval and its over-projected drawls of ignorance. Like the B.B.C. critics, they either have no ear at all, or they can never listen to themselves.

All art is organized evasion. You respond to Lear or Max Miller — or you don’t. I can’t teach the paralyzed to move their limbs. Shakespeare didn’t describe symptons or offer explanations. Neither did Chekhov.

But there are other questions to be asked — how do people live inside (their) houses? What is their relationship with one another, and with their children, with their neighbors and the people across the street, or on the floor above? What are the things that are important to them, that make them care, give them hope and anxiety? What kind of language do they use to one another? What is the meaning of the work they do? Where does the pain lie? What are their expectations? What moves them, brings them together, makes them speak out? Where is the weakness, the loneliness? Where are the things that are unrealized? Where is the strength? Experiment means asking questions, and these are all the questions of socialism.

This is one in a series that will post  on Wednesdays. If you’d like to read more about what people like Sam Shepard, Harold Pinter, Joyce Carol Oates and other famous — and not so famous — playwrights have to say about the art and craft of writing and directing plays, type “On Playwriting” into the small sidebar window and tap the “Search” button.


Today’s Gag

October 17, 2011

To purchase reprint and/or other rights for this cartoon, buy a framed print, or have it reproduced on T-shirts, mugs, aprons, etc., visit my archives at CartoonStock.com by clicking the sidebar link.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Sizemore.