Truancy 101, A Playwright's Fine Print and a touch of Art

TRUANCY AND THE CREATIVE IMPULSE: The Blog by Catherine Zimdahl

Well I could blog about truancy until the cows come home but they won't because I didn't get them microchipped. So I'll be brief today and disappoint you in this seemingly banal excuse for getting out of work - "I've got a cold.". Even still for a beginner these tips will prove immensely helpful.

Tip 1: I've rung my boss to say I can't come in. It is always best to call rather than text or email - it looks like you are hiding something and you are.

Tip 2: Choose an excuse that is appropriate for your job. Therefore as I work in a Call Centre (outright lie) "a bad cold" will interfere with my ability to perform my duties in an upbeat manner in the face of universal distain. One needs good vocal skills for the job and clearly by my performance I will scare people on the end of the line. As a rule I veer away from illness as an excuse as I'm superstitious but today I HAVE to write no matter what. But a word of warning for all you beginners out there it can be easy to get carried away with one small lie and before you know it you will have people bringing around soup and calling you an inspiration. YOU ARE NOT AN INSPIRATION YOU ARE A TRUANT.

Tip 3: Colds are notoriously hard to pull off. Try to get admitted into the National Institute of Dramatic Art, three years of study will bring you up to speed not only for colds but for a general truancy lifestyle choice.

Tip 4: End on a 'greater good' note - "I don't want anyone else to get infected especially that girl, you know that girl-the-always-pregnant-one."

*(Long pause. Exit TRUANT ZIMDAHL. Enter WRITER ZIMDAHL. She looks into the distance for a long time. She then raises her hands to her computer writing passionately as if her life depended on it, it doesn't.) * **

Now I've cleared the decks and I'm headstrong into the 4th draft of a new play.And I'm thinking about 'auteur directors' especially the ones who prefer their playwrights dead. The hypothetical question I am asking myself is would I work with them (while alive?)? And the resounding answer is "Yes!!" (even if they are not dead) because if they have great ideas one would be an idiot not to let them in.

However, if I could just focus solely on one element I would truly fight for it would be this - to take heed of the stage directions written into the play (tho be open to brilliant suggestions). Of course this argument has most likely been going since Oedipus up and slept with his mum...off-stage nah...onstage YEAH fuck everyone up, give them nightmares they will never wake up from!!

But the world is so much bigger and smaller now with plenty of blogs in which playwrights are annihilated for daring to tell the director and actors how their play functions. But one can expect that of blogs.

I was more astonished last year when I read the script guidelines by a renowned new writing theatre company in the U.K. One of the 'rules' was that the authors remove all stage directions in order for the director to make those choices. To be fair that directive has since been taken down.

As an artist the non-verbal and the specific spatial/visual dimension of plays are imperative to my work. I believe the writer's stage directions are crucial to the structural language of the play. It binds the internal logic which can in turn power the work into being.

So what is sometimes dismissed as 'just the small print' might well be embedded with the most insightful of dramatic information.

To end - here's a touch of Art:

The Cliftons Art Prize (Asia Pacific) closes this week. I'm utterly delighted to be one of ten chosen Sydney Region Finalists.

Here's a link to my painting and all the other finalists from as far a field as Auckland, Singapore, Hong Kong amongst others...

http://www.cliftonsartprize.com/2013/sydney/1109/A-Tear-Magnified-To-The-Power

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