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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Yourview@ theaus­tralian.com.au

THAT Si­mon Stone places him­self on a by­line be­fore Chekhov ( The Week­end

Aus­tralian, May 25-26; The Aus­tralian, May 28) speaks vol­umes about his ap­proach to what is the gen­er­ous col­lab­o­ra­tion of the theatre.

Stone ap­pears to el­e­vate the role of adap­ta­tion and reimag­in­ing above the orig­i­nal cre­ation and seems to re­gard writ­ers of orig­i­nal ma­te­rial with lit­tle re­spect while feed­ing off their work.

Play­wrights em­brace the evo­lu­tion of their craft and they em­brace col­lab­o­ra­tion, why else work in the most col­lab­o­ra­tive of all gen­res of writ­ing? Belvoir’s Ralph My­ers ( The Aus­tralian, May 30) claims the di­vide is be­tween young in­no­va­tors and old con­ser­va­tives, not di­rec­tors and play­wrights.

My view is that it’s cliched and con­ser­va­tive to ‘‘reimag­ine’’ classics and be­lieve your own in­sight and cre­ativ­ity is so pro­foundly su­pe­rior to those whose shoul­ders you seek to stand on.

Stone says play­wrights should spend more time in re­hearsal rooms to hone their skills; play­wrights would like noth­ing more than to spend more time in re­hearsal rooms hon­ing their skills. Un­for­tu­nately there are far too few op­por­tu­ni­ties for them to do that.

Hu­mil­ity comes from spend­ing more time in front of a blank page rather than ‘‘steal­ing’’ from and ‘‘cor­rupt­ing’’ pages al­ready filled with the riches of Ib­sen.

That would serve Stone well should he ever choose to leave a lit­tle more space in the re­hearsal room for liv­ing, breath­ing play­wrights work­ing on new Aus­tralian sto­ries. Though steal­ing from the dead ap­pears to be more lu­cra­tive. Jac­que­line Elaine Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Aus­tralian Writ­ers’ Guild WHEN some­body like Si­mon Stone rewrites or changes the orig­i­nal in­tent of work that is not his own, then claims pri­mary own­er­ship of that work (Si­mon Stone af­ter An­ton Chekhov), he needs to be called on it.

Let’s be clear, Stone is not Chekhov. If he were he would be writ­ing his own pieces and they would be­come classics in their own right, in­stead of mess­ing around with other peo­ple’s work at­tempt­ing to be edgy or con­tro­ver­sial.

Es­sen­tially, if Chekhov were the Bea­tles, Stone is a cover band per­form­ing Bea­tles songs but chang­ing the lyrics and mu­sic, tempo, feel and in­tent, then billing him­self as the pri­mary writer of Sgt

Pep­per’s. I like a good cover ver­sion as much as any­body, but let’s get the billing cor­rect.

The Cherry Orchard is not by Si­mon Stone. Per­haps such pro­duc­tions should come with a warn­ing sticker on the box. ‘‘Con­tains one clas­sic work that has been rewrit­ten, re­struc­tured and messed with by some­body who ap­par­ently be­lieves them­selves to be as im­por­tant as the orig­i­nal author.’’ Ian Bell North Ade­laide To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, let­ters must con­tain an ad­dress and tele­phone num­ber for ver­i­fi­ca­tion. Let­ters may be edited for length and clar­ity.

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