Thursday, November 08, 2007

Second Acting

Acclaimed playwright Moss Hart learned writing from the end backward.

When a young man desperate for work, he signed on as the drama director for a summer camp that promised to put on full productions of the latest Broadway shows.

A few problems with that. Moss had never so much as been in a play, let alone knew how to direct and produce. (He exaggerated his resume a bit.)

And the camp was too cheap to pay for royalties or scripts.

So during the winter months, Moss and his friend would “second act” Broadway plays – sneak in after intermission with the smokers. Then they would race home, and write up everything they could remember about the second half of the play.

And then, through guessing and a little bit of logic, they would write the first acts to match the second acts. Voila! They had the Broadway scripts ready for camp!

Mr. Hart claimed that a few years of this practice gave him a great sense of story structure. (Makes sense – Arthur Miller suggests that playwrights should start by writing the last scene of their plays…)

Thought of this as I archived Moss’ script for the Judy Garland starrer – A STAR IS BORN.

Just my thoughts,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His autobiography, ACT ONE, is quite entertaining. It also evaporates whatever glamor may still cling in anyone's mind to the image of Broadway playwrights. Hard work! Frustration! Writer's block! And that's just act one...