Nov 13, 2006

Seeing Straight

I've been reading some classic Didion with relish lately (wish I could say "rereading," but alas this is pretty much my first exposure, after being told for years that I must). I came across this interview today, touching on the upcoming Broadway debut of The Year of Magical Thinking, which she's adapting from her book for a March opening. I was struck by this exchange:
Guernica: You’ve done quite a bit of screenwriting, mostly with your husband. Are there things that are transferable between screenwriting and playwriting?

Joan Didion: No, none. Once in a while there were things in screenwriting that taught me things for fiction. But there’s nothing in screenwriting that teaches you anything for the theater. I’m not sure I’ve ever fully appreciated before how different a form theater is.

Guernica: How would you distinguish screenwriting from playwriting or playwriting from fiction?

Joan Didion: Something I’ve always known and said and thought about the screen is that if it’s anything in the world, it’s literal. It’s so literal that there’s a whole lot you can’t do because you’re stuck with the literalness of the screen. The stage is not literal.

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