one hundred essays I don't have time to write*

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59. Democracy and writing a play

Making a piece of theater is a democratic act. Writing a piece of theater is not a democratic act. The development process has confused this issue. Making and rehearsing a new play means that absolutely every voice counts and it is a collaborative process. Writing a play means that the author is collaborating with invisible or dead people. When the writing process becomes months of developmental workshops, the play becomes more like something Congress would turn out—baffling, cognitive, and legalistic. Writers should be even lonelier when they are meant to be lonely (i.e. when they are writing), and they should be more surrounded when they are meant to be surrounded (when they are putting the play up in an actual rehearsal period). This is the natural rhythm of these odd creatures, the playwrights, those misanthropes who love people; who desperately want to be alone, and then two weeks later when they have finished a play, desperately want to be with other people. The development process has turned everything into a strange hybrid where writers are always meant to be collaborating and are always surrounded but are never actually produced. The economic reductio ad abursdum of this philosophical situation is the current climate of directors taking ten percent of the playwright’s intellectual property for all eternity after doing a one week workshop together (when ostensibly the playwright has suffered for years upon years in solitude to turn out a play). Less democracy in the imagination and more democracy in the room.

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