Monday, August 17, 2009

why i twitter #2: to learn my subtext

seriously, the next time i'm in a play, i hope i can learn what my character's subtext is by reading twitter, just like the actors in broadway's next to normal:
In early May, six weeks after opening, the production began what is by all accounts a Broadway first: over Twitter, the social networking site, an adapted version of the show began to be published in the form of short text messages, or tweets — just a line from a character at a time.
you too can read exactly what alice ripley's diana, robert spencer's dan and the rest of the n2n gang are really thinking when they're offstage, as the twitter version of next to normal was written by the play's bookwriter brian yorkey and composer tom kitt:
In the performance, Mr. Yorkey said, “we didn’t know what Dan the father was thinking when (Alice Ripley as Diana) was on the floor making sandwiches. But this is what they would say if they were tweeting, so it’s telling the story of the show but telling it from a lot of different perspectives. It was the show — but a new multiangle way of thinking of it.”
actually, i thought i knew exactly what dan the father was thinking at that moment and it honestly wasn't: “do all wives end up sprawled on the floor making sandwiches for no one?”

so, who's right?

well, the playwright, clearly. if shakespeare had twittered what hamlet is thinking during his downtime, i guess i'd probably buy it. but isn't that the white space, aren't those the gaps we're left to fill in on our own? aren't those moments best left to an audience's imagination? or an actor's?

do you want to be told what's going on at all times?


  1. No I don't want to know. You need that mystery. It creates discussion. And the ability to wonder. We don't need to know everything that is happening at all times. We don't need 24 hour news channels either.

    Most of the time when I'm on stage I think to myself, "Is my fly up? I hope it is. Boy would that pull focus... oh my line!"

  2. The mystery and the questions are essential to the actor as well as the audience - what good would it be if everyone who ever played Sally Bowles had the same character motivations and thoughts as Liza? Are we not just "copy cats" then? I personally loved Mama Rose as performed by Tyne Daly, Bette Midler and Ms. LuPone (although not so much Bernadette's) because each brought their own emotions and interp to the role.

    AND - acting in the moment is what's fun about doing live theatre - its thrilling when a word or phrase or monologue is delivered with a different slightly motivation leading to a whole new level of understanding on stage! Especially when all of the actors are on the same journey!


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