On changing the text

Last night, after the second premiere of 4.48 Psychosis in Kyiv, an interesting discussion on "director's theatre" versus "respecting the writer". In UK apparently we somewhat eccentrically "respect the writer" whereas here in Ukraine you change the text. Always.

In translation a text becomes less "holy". And I can see other justifications to change text. It might not be finished and needs adjusting in rehearsals to finish it. And sometimes the published version doesn't have all those changes because they want to sell it on opening night. (Beware of those script programmes at theatres they are often different from the play on stage). If the play is considered unstageable and therefore not ever staged. If it is out of copyright then why not change it. In some cases, especially in translation, I can see that names and places and times might benefit from a bit of localisation.

But mainly I think why? Why choose a text in the first place if you dislike it so much that you think it needs rewriting? Why give yourself the extra work? Why go into a rewriting process when you are actually trying to rehearse? Rewriting text, even reordering text creates many problems and gives few benefits. Which is why putting on a new play or devising is so hard. I have this situation in Blind Summit all the time because we are usually creating a new text. So far we haven't been able to find or commission successfully play-texts for puppets and actors.

The discussion of who is in charge between actor/ writer/ director/ producer/ whoever is a sidetrack. The audience is in charge. They will decide if your work is any good or not.

And there's nothing stopping you write a play yourself.