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Ganging Up On The Playwright's Baby

September 14, 1986

Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen and a few others foolish enough to write for the theater would have flunked Mark Medoff's "volleyball course" in playwriting.

The "gang" theory of disemboweling the playwright's work began with the Group Theatre and was further refined by the theatrical Talmudist, Lee Strasberg.

"The Method" encourages extra-textual and sub-textual tampering by actors, resulting in massive distortion and eventual demolition of the original work.

Improvisation is now the device of the actor and director who believe they can "improve" a play. The hapless playwright, eager for a production, enlists in his own destruction.

Given time, the playwright discovers, as did Campbell, that the play he wrote during those solitary evenings in Chicago is unrecognizable, no longer his own--but has become a Babel of stenographic dissonance.

EDMUND MORRIS

Santa Monica

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