Monday, March 14, 2011

Voice and Process

There was an interesting article by Fintan O'Toole in last Saturday's Irish Times. He discusses the shifting balance between content and technique in theatre. He suggests that training in how to structure the theatrical experience is beginning to impact on the quality of the drama because it seems detrimental to the writer's voice.

I think what's happening is that formalised training processes in theatre are just catching up with long-established practices in film. We should be asking if these formalised dramaturgical and script editorial processes are really fostering and empowering the creative impulse before it reaches the public sphere.

Perhaps the author's voice is less respected when, in theory, anyone with a modicum of talent can train in how to write for either medium? Does a development and production process which seeks to lessen commercial risk then exacerbate the situation?

No amount of Aristotelian analysis can compensate for a lack of substance, which may be less of an issue if manipulative entertainment is the order of the day. But even the highly-structured froth of genre cinema works better and is more original when it expresses an author's particular, complicated take on human existence.

Arguably the result of all the development intervention may be that what a writer wants to say, and the individual character of their voice, gets lost in all the processing activity. The complications are smoothed over. And if the writer starts out with nothing to say, then so much the better?

Well that's the danger, isn't it?

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