Playwrights are storytellers and we look everywhere for stories to present on stage. We can get these stories from people we or know, from newspapers or other media, or books. We can even get these stories from other plays. But we have to be sure the story becomes a play, not a newspaper article or a novel on the stage. In a recent adaption of the novel “2666” by Roberto Bolano at the Goodman Theater in Chicago in February 2016, the reviewer in The New York Times (2/17/16) suggests that the play by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley remains a novel put on stage: “We find ourselves watching an animated diagram of the the novel rather than a fully realized dramatization.” The play appears to violate the adage “show, not tell.” The reviewer further states, “The characters spend most of the time telling us who they are, what they have done—even what they are doing—rather than actually interacting with one another.” This is a good lesson for all of us who write for the stage.
As playwrights we have to remember that we are writing plays.