Thursday, October 22, 2015

Play Submission Blues - The Synopsis

Writing a synopsis is like embalming
   A newborn baby while it’s still alive.
That theatres all demand this is alarming—
   They want to read the map, not take the drive.
The build-up doesn’t matter—just the kicker.
   You have to make them feel it with a feeler.
They want the drama summed up on a sticker
   Like some play version of a used-car dealer.
So you remove what makes your play a play—
   Suspense, change, dialogue, time, laughs, surprise—
Till only the And Thens are left to say
   “And then he did this” or “And then she dies”—
     Just so some intern can, from his high chair,
      Read it and say: “You didn’t make me care.” 

Just like a single building’s not a town,
   Two lines of prose are not two hours of mood.
Plays are like vegetables—you boil them down,
   And they become as bland as British food.
The need to sum up so it can be grasped
   By baby fingers or the LCD
Is just as poisonous as being asped
   By the great viper of conformity—
The snake in the creative garden, who
   Catalogues everything by pigeonhole;
Decrees a list of facts defines the true;
   Believes that life is body parts, not soul;
      And doesn’t want your dialogue or scenes
      But just a paragraph on what it means.

A good play’s like a roller coaster ride—
   A laugh and scream and thrill delivery system.
And every time someone takes me aside
   And says: “These feelings I should have?  Just list ‘em!”
Something inside me dies—and when I grieve,
   It rises up, wielding a vengeful knife
Against those fools who actually believe
   A tombstone with two dates sums up a life.
When everything must add up at the end,
   Like general ledgers audited by Germans,
It’s not a work of art that I’ve just penned—
   It’s either how-to manuals or sermons.
      You want a message?  Here’s a telegram, Pop:

Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

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