Thursday, September 13, 2012

Advice to Young Playwrights, part 2 - Constantine Ligons

A few weeks ago, I asked some of the actors, directors, playwrights, readers, and teaching artists who have been associated with the NJ Young Playwrights Festival for their advice for young playwrights like you. This advice comes from Constantine Lignos, a NY-based actor/playwright who also was a NJ Young Playwrights Festival winner in 2006. Here is Constantine's response below... enjoy!

A strong play is universal. Anyone can relate to any character at any moment in the play. No matter how personal it may be for the playwright, audiences want to see something that they feel they have a visceral connection with, not just one writer's one-hour psychotherapy session. The writer needs to distance himself from the subject matter. To do this, he must delve so deeply into the experience that it is no longer about his own personal and emotional relationship to the matter, but how the world is affected by that aspect of human-ness.

I almost exclusively write strong roles for women. Women who are so down in the dumps that their ascension must be an act of power and control. To portray this in a way that would seem universal, I always add some abstraction to them. We can always universally relate to the abstractions of the imagination. Imagination is something we all share.

As an actor, I look for a fun challenge. A play that lets me push the boundaries of how a character should be played. It's never fun to do what you should do. We're allowed to break the rules as artists, so why don't we?

As a writer, I write plays that I know I won't get sick of in a few weeks. I almost always do get tired of them, though.

My advice would be to keep a journal. Always. And write in it every day. Write everything without hesitation. Also, never be afraid to write a scene, or a few bits of dialogue, instead of a whole play. You'd be surprised how those 4 lines you wrote can turn into a three-act play a few years down the road. When you're feeling down, write. When you're feeling great, write.

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