Imagine for a moment if two of the most brilliant plays now running in New York by two of our most imaginative living playwrights--David Ives and Edward Albee--had been subjected to the sort of dramaturgical “help” most of the rest of us endure on a regular basis.
Here for your enjoyment are some imaginary notes given by some well-intentioned dramaturges during the developmental workshopping of Venus in Fur and Lady from Dubuque, which thankfully apparently they never endured.
Edward, your protagonist, Jo, is totally unlikable. We don’t root for her, as currently written. We need to understand why she’s so angry. Otherwise, we just don’t care.
David, I wonder if the audience will buy your premise. I mean, what keeps Thomas from walking out of the room immediately? It’s not clear to us why he stays. Take a look at that.
David, I'm not quite sure we get precisely why Vanda needs this part so badly right now. We need to understand exactly what's at stake for her.
Edward, I’m unclear whether you want us to track Jo or Sam. Whose play is this?
Edward, your first act sets up rules of engagement that make no room for any supernatural element. I’m not sure you’ve earned the road you take us down in Act Two.
David, it’s not clear you know whether Vanda really loves her boyfriend or not. Ditto for Thomas. Are we expected to buy these two as being in adult relationships? Their home lives just don’t feel fully fleshed out somehow.
Edward, it's hard enough for us to fathom this Lady from Dubuque. Not sure Oscar as her sidekick is doing you any favors. And the references to race feel like they're from another play. Afterall, race isn't your subject. Why muddy the waters?
David, you have a wonderful ear for language, especially heightened language. Be careful though. Sometimes your characters are too clever for their own good and you run the risk of losing half your audience.
Edward, do we really need Edgar and Carol? I mean, they’re funny. They have some nice bits, but consider cutting them altogether. Much of what they do could be given to Fred and Lucinda.
David, it’s not clear to me whether Vanda is actually meant to be a struggling actress or possibly Aphrodite. If she’s meant to be a goddess, literally, then you need to clarify that from the get go.
Edward, it’s still not quite clear to me whether we’re to believe the Lady from Dubuque is Death or just some crazy person or possibly actually Jo’s mother.
Edward, Lucinda’s breakdown on the front lawn is a critical turning point for this character. Think about bringing this scene on stage. We want to see her breakdown. We want to care.
These are just a few possible “contributions.” Perhaps you’d like to add your own? Feel free to pile on.