Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Major Dramatic Question

So, right now I'm in yet another new experience for the theater -- I wrote a play, and I'm acting in it, but I'm not directing it. My friend Stephanie has that quite, quite well in hand. In a way, it's allowing me to focus myself on just diving in to really explore the question I wanted to tackle with the play.

When I went to school, the Major Dramatic Question was one of those core concepts that we as actors were given to analyze the play and the role, along with "tactics" and "beats" and all that jazz. Often, people put forward the Major Dramatic Question of the play as being that one question that needs to get answered for the plot to resolve. For instance, supposedly the "Major Dramatic Question" of Waiting for Godot is "Will Godot ever get there?"The "Major Dramatic Question" of Macbeth was once put to me as "Will Macbeth get away with it?"

But these are very different from the questions that actually drove the playwright to write those plays. I can't speak for those authors, but I bet the real dramatic questions were "What do we do when we're trapped in waiting?" and "Can we really step outside our own fates?"

That's the unique privilege I have right now -- as the central character to the plot, the question that's leading my character along is the question leading the heart of the production along, and it's the question that I the playwright am still investigating. It's a unique privilege because it's a question I felt completely lost on myself, going into the play. There was no amount of thinking about it or writing to it that would help me figure it out. For once, I have to be through the question, and that's the experience I'm going through.