Scene From “Writing An Opera”

Writer: Peter J Casey
Dramaturg: Peter Matheson
Director: Caroline Stacey

The Scene
Writer, Dramaturg and Director are in the Director‘s office at the Street Theatre. Writer and Dramaturg are on one side of the Director‘s desk; she is behind it. The walls are festooned with posters and flyers for various productions, and Writer looks at these when he is not taking notes on his large notepad. Dramaturg‘s notepad is a notepad computer, which he wields with considerable dexterity.

Director: I was thinking, for Act One …

Writer: You think it’s a little short?

Director: It could use … room to breathe.

Dramaturg: I’m not getting a sense of the supporting characters.

Writer: Well, you’re right, of course, they don’t really have anything to do, do they? I’ve got to give them a reason to be in the scene, I figure.

Dramaturg: And relationships with each other. The action needs to come from character.

Director: I’m thinking of some kind of ritual. Could Renard, the priest, enact some kind of ritual in Act One? Because we need to know where the girls’ possession comes from.

Dramaturg: Yes, what does he do to possess them?

Writer: Oh, damn. That’s brilliant. That’s great, because he could chant the next part of the Mass, after the sermon, and that could be what starts their infatuation with him.

Director: And we need to be, for that ritual, inside their world. We need to see their view of what’s going on.

Writer: Oh, crap. That’s so good. How am I going to get that in there?

Dramaturg: And, for me, the justification for that would be in Act Two, with another scene that balances that first one. It should be before Joan goes to confront Renard. Maybe we see the schoolgirls bored, and Caterina pregnant.

Writer: Shit, that’s really good.

Dramaturg: But this time, unlike in Act One, Robert’s there. He’s part of it, and sings against it.

Director: Yes, so we see his world changing as well.

Writer: Son of a bitch.  The only problem with all of that is my lack of talent.

Dramaturg+Director: Oh, stop it, you’ll be fine. You can write that, you’ll do a great job … (etc.)



So, the next time you hear a writer fail to give credit to his/her collaborators, smack him upside the head and ask him/her “Alright, God-almighty, whose idea was the Latin chant in Act One?”


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