A play needs more than a good script

A play needs more than a good script


Sometime back I saw a play that was based on the concept of how Mahatma Gandhi and Einstein were geniuses as individuals but weren’t as good as fathers. I am sure the written form of the play would have been interesting but watching it on stage was boring to the last minute. Even though the actors wanted to be the best in what they were doing, the gaps in the delivery of the message were apparent to the audience. That made me realize that a good script or plot is not sufficient to enact a play.

Play Performance
Photo by Pepe Segura on Unsplash

Based on my experience from the variety of plays I have watched so far, here are the top three things that I think could be fixed in the Two Fathers performance:

Keep it short  – Unlike the commercial movies which are deliberately created for minimum two hours, considering the entertainment expectation from the audience, theatre allows more freedom to perform only to the extent of conveying the message. It is a medium of subtlety. If the play is short, keep it short instead of adding dialogues that are not contributing to the plot. When the play drags, it is painful to sit through it.

Innovate to use the medium  – When the subject of your play is about famous personalities, you cannot portray what the world already knows about them, for ages! Innovate, research, and be creative in adding value to the script so you can show the audience an unpredictable aspect. Books and theatre are different mediums of expression. While books allow the reader to imagine, internalize and visualize, theatre allows the audience to see expressions live and use their imagination and intelligence to understand the finer nuances that are not being told or enacted.

Enacting a play right out of a book is not always a good idea. It needs to be directed well and the script needs to be tightened to ensure that the audience remains interested in knowing the final outcome. In the given example, since the two personalities being discussed are strong, the writer and the director could have taken care to show more than the predictable part of their lives. Everyone knows about them and what happened to their families. Now what? The characters could not portray the unknown aspects of the two legends and that was disappointing. Proper use of creative freedom could have taken care of this.

Practice and get feedback  –  Choose your subject/plot carefully. When your play is about famous personalities, your actors must do justice to them and deliver dialogues the way those personalities would have spoken. In the given example, while some dialogues were delivered flat, some were exaggerated. And this can be easily fixed with practice, direction and probably some feedback from peers.

I am not adding my review of the play here. The effort is to help new directors and theatre artists to gain perspective into what today’s audience would want to see on stage.