As noted elsewhere (Here and Here) David Mamet has written up this piece in the Guardian about Night of the Iguana.
As usual, Mamet is in rare form as he says ridiculous things like:
"To praise drama as primarily poetic is to engage in propositional theology; ie to enjoy the sense of probity and status conferred by the announcement of an elevated and approved opinion. This, though, is the province of the cleric and has nothing whatever to do with the performance or the enjoyment of real drama." (I wonder what Kirk Wood Bromley would say to this...?)
"Playwriting is a young man's - and, of late, a young woman's - game. It requires the courage of youth still inspired by rejection and as yet unperverted by success. Most playwrights' best work is probably their earliest." (I would argue that Mamet's own earliest plays are not his best.)
That being said... there is something Mamet does that is mechanically useful here, which is to write down what he feels makes a "good play." Herein are the points of argument, and I think that they are the points worthy of discussion.
Rule #1: A Play is Written to be Performed. He argues that anything in the text that is not "performable" reduces the quality of the play.
Rule #2: Any spoken line of dialogue that is not written for the express purpose of furthering the plot reduces the quality of the play.
Rule #3: The "poetry" of drama is equal to the "mechanical purity of the dialogue."
I'm curious what we think of these "rules for drama." I guess my real question is: Who has written what is a "good play" that breaks his rules successfully?
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.