Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 64: Voices

One of the things I find most fascinating about the playwriting process is figuring out a character's "voice": the way they speak, the words they choose, the pace and rhythm of their speech.  I have always kind of wondered how playwrights did that, as I don't feel like I walk around consciously observing the differences in people's speech patterns.  From the first scene I wrote in playwriting class, I was worried about how to do that.  I still don't know "how", really, but it seems to be something that I am learning to do by instinct.  I start to hear the characters talk in my head, and sometimes I'll just write a line and realize "no, that's not how they would say that."  Then I'll try something else and feel in my gut "yes, that's a Frank line".  

This was something I started noticing even before I officially started studying playwriting,, when I was writing the book for the family cabaret show Kat and I created and performed together (I've posted a our demo reel at the bottom of this page if you're curious about it!).  I was writing dialogue for the two of us to perform, but as the show developed it became clear that the characters of Nat and Kat were not the real Nat and Kat.  They have their own distinct "voices", distinct not only from the real Nat & Kat but also from each other.  There were many times in the rehearsal process where we would realize, wait, that's a Kat line, not a Nat line.  It was hard to say why,  but it was something both Kat and I could just tell.  And as soon as we would switch the lines around, a previously troublesome scene would suddenly work.

The Frank scene I wrote this week brought back Vera, a fellow nursing home resident character I had originally written almost a year ago in the very first scene I wrote for Frank in playwriting class.  As I was going back through the rough draft of the new scene, I noticed that Vera's voice didn't seem quite right.  She wasn't distinctive enough from the other characters, and wasn't quite coming across like she had in the first scene I wrote for her last year.  So I went back and re-read that old scene, and immediately was able to hear her voice in my head again.  From that moment, I felt like the scene began to write itself.  I'm quite enamored with it; we'll see what my class thinks when I have it read today!

Speaking of which, I must run or I will be late to said class!
blog comments powered by Disqus