Archive for the 'plays' Category


September 19, 2013

I complain about people writing scripts for others — in effect, telling the other person what the writer thinks they should say and do (and think).  Outside of the context of consciously writing a play to be put on stage or filmed, I am uncomfortable with the idea of writing scripts.  I object to the kind of script-writing in which one family member tells another how to react or in which a pundit tells a politician what to say, for example.

So I am amused that I found myself writing someone else a script.

My mother actually asked for this script.  She needed to call a brokerage firm and sell shares in a mutual fund.  We had taken all the preceding steps together — ascertaining, in consultation with her team of professionals, this was a good move for her, determining the cost basis (no easy feat under the circumstances), etc.  All she needed to do was to give the sell order.  It seemed to me not a good use of time and energy to put either me or her financial adviser on the account just to sell it, and although my mother had trepidation at the outset of this project that she could do it herself, once she saw how we could work through the determination of the basis, she became more confident that she could accomplish this objective.  And she knew I was there in the background as needed.  (The account had been in her name for years, but my father had managed it.)

So she agreed she would do it, and when I started explaining how such a conversation typically unfolds, she started taking notes and asking me to put my descriptions into examples of words to say.  So I did, and by the end of the conversation, she happily announced that she had a script now, and that that was what she needed in order to feel comfortable undertaking the transaction.

She accomplished the transaction yesterday, informed me that she had a confirmation number and insisted on giving it to me.  She repeated how important it was to her to have had a script.  (She understood the transaction conceptually and wanted it done, she just was concerned she didn’t know what to say — kind of like, for some people, not being sure of how to order in a French restaurant — which is, actually, not an issue for my mother, as her French is quite good.)

I am so glad I found a context in which scripting someone else’s conversation seems to have been a helpful thing.



September 7, 2011

I once knew a pair of brothers, the older of whom, I discovered, some time later, impersonated the younger one from time to time.  I’m not even sure the younger one knew his brother was doing it.  I guess we could file it under a “lack of boundaries.”  When I’m feeling charitable about it, I can see it as a logical extension of the older brother’s playwrighting  (or playwriting, or whatever it is)  —  he just took it to the next level and actually spoke the lines for the other character, too.  I can also now see, in retrospect, that their relationship mirrored my own sibling relationship in a way, and that experiencing theirs from the outside gave me a new way to understand how other people may experience my sister and me.  In both cases it isn’t clear what one does about it — people who do this sort of thing are kind of difficult to have rational conversations with.  I can sort of look at it in the opposite way instead, kind of like the narrator in the A.A. Milne poem who feels he has to eat Binker’s candy for him — maybe the younger sibling actually helps the older live a life they couldn’t live without drafting along behind them, and maybe that serves some greater good, I don’t know.  Or maybe it’s just dysfunction that has no resolution other than detachment.

Gender changes

July 28, 2011

My son recently wrote a paper on the effect of changing the gender of Hildy Johnson from a male in the play The Front Page to a female in the movie “His Girl Friday,” which was based on it.  My son found understanding the nature of the relationships well enough to follow the writer’s points was easier with a romance than with old fashioned male workplace relationships (the entire first act of the play was somewhat impenetrable to him).  I felt somewhere in the middle, being able to imagine how men like my grandfather (born in 1889) and someone (born 1907) I was close friends with when I was in my twenties and he was in his seventies, might have behaved.  This then got me wondering how long the interplay of the sex roles in “His Girl Friday” would actually itself be comprehensible — just how timeless is our current concept of romance actually?  Made me wonder further what kind of relationship will be used as the next vehicle in a remake of the story.