Visualizing the Drama

Friday, November 07, 2008
by LuAnn Schindler

A local high school asked me to direct their one-act competition play this year. I haven't directed a play in over two years, and since I have so much spare time (I do?) I said yes. Actually, I knew what play I wanted to direct; I thought the characters would be challenging for the students and I knew how I wanted to stage the production.

As a director, your job is to interpret the playwright's words and place that visualization on the stage. You see each character in a unique light and as you share your vision with an actor, you hope that they crawl into that character's skin and become that person on stage. You plot the lighting changes, sound effects and blocking choices to match the picture you've created in your mind.

It is the same when you write. You visualize the characters, see them in a unique light and bring them to life on the page. You establish a sense of place through staging. And, you plot the lighting changes, the sound effects, and blocking choices when you determine who is in a certain scene, where it takes place, and what dialogue is spoken.

Readers do the same thing, too. When I read Michael Crichton's Timeline, I could see certain actors cast in the movie. I could visualize the castle and the clothing from the Renaissance. I knew Nicolas Cage should be in the movie (obviously I wasn't in charge of casting)! Visualizing the drama, whether a novel or a play, creates a bond with the readers.

And it's an important bond that begins in your mind, travels along the page through the plot twists and turns, and ends with the reader.


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