Are You Invisible?


I dramaturge a community project t in which playwrights write plays based on a historical locally connected topic. It’s the hardest kind of play to write especially for the beginner because they have to take research and make it sound natural and organic.

How do you combine information you really want the audience to know and theatrical writing effectively?

What often happens is the dialogue comes across as informational.  Dear brother, I can’t wear stockings, it’s 1942. There’s a war on don’t you know. It sounds like the playwright lecturing directly to the audience – here is information you need to understand in order to get this moment. It doesn’t sound like organic dialogue that would happen in natural conversation.

Are you invisible in your work?

Are you? Does your dialogue sound like natural organic conversation or are you trying to direct your audience experience? If that’s your calling, then you should be on stage instead of behind the scenes. One of the jobs of the playwright is to disappear.

Certainly you need  a point of view.  You need a reason for writing. A thesis. And you want to communicate your reason to an audience. But your characters should not, and cannot act as your mouthpiece. They are not shills for your point of view. They have to have their own voice and their own personality.

It’s not easy to write this way. It’s difficult to imprint your thesis on a variety of characters sharing a story and make it seem completely natural at the same time.

So how do you do it?

  1. Develop your characters fully. Make them specific, make them unique, make them three dimensional and most importantly, give them enough details so that they differ from you and your personality.
  2. Develop a clear character want. If you have a character expressing your personal point of view, make sure they express that point of view via a defined want. In that way the character is more than a mouthpiece. They have drive, they have reason, they have purpose beyond what you want them to say.
  3. Never have one character say to another “….do you remember…?” or,  “as you know….”.  these are give away phrases that what comes next is not something the character would ever say, it’s something the playwright wants the audience to know. And that is neither natural or organic.

Are you invisible in your work? Why or why not?