In the Playwrighting Workshop I took with Edward Albee at the University of Houston about a million years ago, Mr. Albee stated that, “If it can’t be done with a chair and a light bulb, it shouldn’t be done.”
This philosophy goes to the heart of character and drama, for it is characters that are not only the heart of a play, but almost always the only element worth paying attention to. A nice set is great to look at for a few moments and certainly lights and sounds have their places. But an audience doesn’t go to the theatre for the setting. They go to see Willie Lowman battle his demons, to see Romeo and Juliet fall in tragic love, and to see George and Martha duke it out.
It certainly made sense, then, to ask my former mentor – the three-time Pulitzer-Prize winning creator of some of the most memorable characters to tread the boards from Jerry and Peter to a certain goat named Sylvia – for a few of his thoughts on character, drama and some of his work. He was kind enough to agree and we are privileged to highlight his contribution in this issue of Mason’s Road. The most instructive statement of which may be that retaining the integrity of a character through the many phases of theatrical production, “depends on the ability of the writer to create a character that cannot be easily misinterpreted.” To do this, a playwright has but one tool, dialogue.
Character is revealed in drama by what characters say and what they do not say. In choosing the three pieces that have been published in this edition of Mason’s Road – out of a record-breaking pool of submissions – we looked for strong characters developed through the action of dialogue, ones that intrigued or surprised us. We sought characters that were unique to themselves and the genre and were capable of standing up as three-dimensional beings.
We are proud to present The Dog Show by Ivan Faute, Inconspicuous by Jacob M. Appel, and Back Row Girls by Rich Espy. Each of these works, though very different in approach and subject matter, present strong characters in situations that reveal and explore, and I hope you enjoy them and get a chance to see them up on their feet someday.