I like what Terence McNally says about creating character through dialogue. His “heart” trope further in the interview, however, is hackneyed. I hope writers who survive this “age of calamity” find a new way to talk about courage, tolerance, empathy, affection, and zest for life — something that for me is glimpsed in this newborn’s face.
I realized very early that my descriptive powers — what a room looked like, what a person looked like — were scant. But I could write credible dialogue. And my characters sounded different from one another. I could define them better by how they spoke than by telling you how they looked… I decided if I really wanted to be a writer, I’d better focus on theater.
I’m working in an age of calamity, but also in an age of great progressive things happening, too… I think what’s required is an openness to them… These are tumultuous, rich times for a writer. All you need is ears and a heart.
My advice to artists is the same as I’d give to someone who wanted to be a better dentist or a better lawyer. Show up, listen, let your heart expand.
(Philip Galanes, “A Conversation With Terence McNally, the Bard of American Theater,” NYTimes, 4-10-19)
(c) 2019 JMN.