I forwarded a few quotes from this thread to the Scrnwrit list. The
following was posted there by that list's moderator, with permission that I
could forward it to this list:
Sun, 6 Nov 1994 10:29:49 -0600
>Reply-To: Screen Writing Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
>Sender: Screen Writing Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
>From: JackS <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject: Re: Screenplay as Literature
>X-To: [log in to unmask]
>To: Multiple recipients of list SCRNWRIT <[log in to unmask]>
>This is an interesting discussion.
>>From my own department I know the theatre folks are pissed at the English
>department people because they do look at plays as literature and not as
>"performance text." The main point with them seems to be that a script
>is NOT a play.
>An excellent example of this is Molier's (sp?) Learned Ladies. To read
>this script you will get no sense of the comedy a well staged version of
>the play will provide. In the time it was written, little more than
>entrances and exits were included as stage directions. Everything else
>was dialogue. The production just staged here was a laugh riot -- but it
>came from what the director did with what was not provided instead of
>relying only on the script. We know from reviews of the period that the
>original plays by Molier were wonderfully received and considered very
>funny. You can't, however, get that from the text of the plays.
>This lead to an exam of the plays which do make it into the lit books.
>Such dull plays as Molier are difficult to understand as comedy, or as
>much of anything else, without an active imagination. Thus the reader
>must make a considerable contribution to the script in order for it to
>come across well.
>Willy Shakes's plays, on the other hand, have a little more in the way of
>stage directions, but no much. He put a lot of his stage directions in
>the dialogue. And, of course, his dialogue was excellent.
>Modern stage script writers know that while "the play's the thing," the
>only sacred part of the text is the dialogue. The stage directions of
>the author are still altered --- but stage directors and actors feel a
>very strong loyality for the written dialogue. What this means is that
>if the writer wants a "green raincoat" to be used as a prop, he/she must
>write it in the dialogue to insure it. This, in turn, has an impact of
>the way dialogue is written.
>As for screenplays --- any beginning screenwriter understands that a
>screenplay is first of all a reading experience before it has any prayer
>of becoming a movie. Thus the screenplay is written to move the reader,
>be that reader a script reader, a producer, director, or actor. It is by
>having the emotions of these people as readers affected by the written
>word that the screenwriter moves his/her work up the feeding chain to the
>By virtue of the way scripts are written for the screen today, the
>position that screenplay are literature has a lot of validity. I can
>remember in junior high having to read a television script for The
>Pharmistist Mate. It was a story which leaped off the page into the
>reader's mind as good screenplay still do.
>So, since scripts are definitely written to be read (spec scripts
>even more so than shooting scripts), I concur with the "screenplays as
>(P.S. Steven, feel free to forward this to the other discussion list if
>you feel it makes a contribution)
>Jack R. Stanley, Ph.D.
>The Univ. of Tex-Pan American
>Edinburg, TX 78539
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