Tag Archives: plays

A Little Trick to Consider

7 Apr

by Biljana Likic

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REMINDER: The Comedy Contest is still going on! Get your admissions in before May 1st!

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Here’s a little trick I use when I feel stuck or uninspired.

But first, some context!

Plays and scripts aren’t meant to be read; they are meant to be acted out. When a playwright or screenwriter begins composing their piece, their first thoughts probably aren’t, “Man this is gonna be a damn good script to read.” Instead, they most likely think something along the lines of, “I really hope this connects with the audience watching!”

But who says they can’t be read?

Why I love reading scripts, plays in particular, is because it’s such an exercise of the imagination. There are a lot of ways you can interpret a piece of text. Words can be very ambiguous, and dialogue can say so much about what’s happening, and yet so little. When you see a play, the director is generally the one that makes all the decisions about what kind of messages need to be sent out. That is one person interpreting a piece of dialogue in a way that is hopefully unique. And while I love watching plays, this is why I like reading them: I get my own interpretation, my own little production, right inside my head. I get to be the one to make those decisions, and apply what emotions I feel are appropriate.

So sometimes, when I feel completely uninspired, I’ll take out a script, pick a piece of dialogue, and write a narrative for it.

Here’s an example. Take this blurb of dialogue:

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The Dialogue:

Man: “Where’d you go?”

Woman: “I went to the supermarket.”

Man: “What did you get?”

Woman: “Carrots.”

Man: “I hate carrots.”

Woman: “They help your eyesight.”

Man: “They taste like cardboard.”

Woman: “I’m just looking out for you.”

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Now here it is interpreted into two narratives:

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Interpretation 1:

The woman walked through the door, throwing her keys onto the coffee table and continuing on to the kitchen.

“Where’d you go?” the man asked, snaking his arms around her waist and leaning his chin against her shoulder.

She smiled and turned her head to kiss his cheek. “I went to the supermarket.”

“What did you get?”

She dumped out a mass of gnarled, vibrant orange sticks onto the granite countertop. “Carrots,” she declared, grinning triumphantly.

The man groaned and tried to pull her away from the counter. “I hate carrots.”

“They help your eyesight,” the woman said, giggling and grabbing onto the handles of the drawers to stop him from dragging her away.

“They taste like cardboard,” he muttered.

She turned in his arms and put a hand on his cheek. “I’m just trying to look out for you,” she said, giving him another quick kiss, and moving away to start peeling.

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Interpretation 2:

The woman walked through the door, throwing her keys onto the coffee table and continuing on to the kitchen.

“Where’d you go?”

She froze. Grip tightening against her alibi, she flicked her gaze behind her. The man was watching her coldly.

She forced out a smile. “I went to the supermarket.”

“What did you get?”

A slightly trembling hand reached into the bag and dumped a mass of carrots onto the laminate countertop. There were too many. She’d panicked and grabbed more than she could ever need. “Carrots,” she said, staring at the now incriminating orange mound.

There was a tense pause.

“I hate carrots.”

The woman clenched her fists. “They help your eyesight.”

“They taste like cardboard.”

She bit her cheek. She could feel his eyes boring into her back, the short, empty distance between kitchen chair and kitchen counter threatening to drive her into a frenzy.

“I’m just trying to look out for you,” she said, barely keeping her voice level.

The man said nothing. She heard his shoes scuff against the tile of the floor and flinched, but nothing happened. He left the kitchen. The woman squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then took out a knife and started peeling.

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So there you have it, folks: two completely different interpretations from one little blurb of dialogue. Obviously, when it’s a whole script, the words and stage directions will push you towards a certain mood the writer wants, but there are still so many possibilities. It’s the reason why you can watch a play done by two different groups of people and feel as if they weren’t even the same piece of work.

In my opinion, it’s fascinating.

So next time you feel you need a good stretch for your imagination, try picking up a play and writing out a narrative just like that. It just might get your creative juices flowing.

Feel free to put your own interpretation of the blurb in the comments!

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Biljana Likic is an aspiring author, currently revising her first novel, TIME IS A FUNNY THING. She’s in her final year of high school, waiting and waiting to graduate, finish university, and finally have all the time in the world to write. You can visit her blog here, and check out her work on her FictionPress account.

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