Quote Originally Posted by KTC View Post
Confusion in the script not being the issue, however, stage direction---the moving parts---I always keep that to a dull roar. In my experience, the director has always known how to make those parts work with my minimal intrusion. I'm not entirely certain you're addressing merely stage direction? Was that your intention when you discussed interpretation and confusion? I'm thinking of the horrid mistakes first time playwrights make of moving the characters about the stage like chess pieces and making sure through a volley of stage directions that the cast and director know exactly where to be and what position their hands, feet, eyeballs should be in at any given time. That kind of overkill of stage-direction is what I'm thinking about when I say minimal is best.
I think I understand the distinction you're making. No, I'm not advocating a peppering of stage directions - or even acting directions, although writers like Edward Albee seem to get away with it. I was talking about significant moments of change in the action that are largely subtextual in nature.

Mamet's work contains good examples of this. He hinges many key moments in his plays around small, seemingly "insignificant" beats ("Speed The Plow" and "Oleanna" both have such scenes) that have no build up to announce their presence. They slip past and then bite an audience in the rear. I've always admired him for that but sometimes I've wondered how many of the directors I've encountered lately would 'get' those scripts if they were reading them as first time submissions by an unknown.

I don't pretend to be as skilled as Mamet but I started out as an actor and I do understand how subtext works. Just lately I've found myself having to explain to readers of my work the purpose of some scenes in that context. Not all readers, just some, but enough to make me think I should consider putting in a few signposts - just in the most crucial parts of the story.