Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for April 9th, 2016

The unanswered questions

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Edward Albee

I get some interesting people together, and I see what happens to them…I give them their head to the extent that it fits into what I want to happen. It’s too complicated to simplify. What happens in a play is determined to a certain extent by what I thought might be interesting to have happen before I invented the characters, before they started taking over what happened, because they are three-dimensional individuals, and I cannot tell them what to do. Once I give them their identity and their nature, they start writing the play…I don’t remember ever saying, “No, I have to keep [a character] around for certain plot ideas.” I don’t think in those terms. These turn into real people with their own minds and their own answers and their own questions…

You go into rehearsal, when directors and actors start asking all sorts of unnecessary questions, because they don’t understand half of it—the nature of the characters. Almost all of those answers, if the play is well constructed, are answered during rehearsal. You solve all those problems. Sometimes it’s because the actor doesn’t understand the character. Then you fire the actor and get another one who will understand what’s going on. There may be lots of questions that anybody—an actor or a director or anybody—can ask about a character in a play of mine that are not answered in the play, but if it’s a question that I don’t think is relevant, I don’t bother about it. There’s no reason to ask it.

Edward Albee, to The Believer

Written by nevalalee

April 9, 2016 at 7:30 am

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