News & views
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.