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This week at The Paris Review, we’re thinking about writing for the screen and stage versus the page. Read on for Suzan-Lori Parks’s Art of Theater interview, James Salter’s short story “The Cinema,” and Claribel Alegría’s poem “Documentary.”
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Suzan-Lori Parks, The Art of Theater No. 18
Issue no. 235 (Winter 2020)
I love the process of writing. Whether it’s a TV script or a play, novel, song, or a film script, writing is all the same process. Just the rhythms are different. And where you have to begin and end is different. And how much you can see of a scene is different. What details you need to make a scene. In the novel, there are more words in those details. You can’t just say, “She’s tall and good looking.” You’ve got to let us know how so! Give me specifics. You’ve got to let us know how good looking she is.
By James Salter
Issue no. 49 (Summer 1970)
It was now Iles’ turn, the time to expose his ideas. He plunged in. He was like a kind of crazy schoolmaster as he described the work, part Freud, part lovelorn columnist, tracing interior lines and motives deep as rivers. Members of the crew had sneaked in to stand near the door. Guivi jotted something in his script.
“Yes, notes, make notes,” Iles told him, “I am saying some brilliant things.”
A performance was built up in layers, like a painting, that was his method, to start with this, add this, then this, and so forth. It expanded, became rich, developed depths and undercurrents. Then in the end they would cut it back, reduce it to half its size. That was what he meant by good acting.
By Claribel Alegría, translated by Darwin T Flakoll
Issue no. 108 (Fall 1988)
Come, be my camera.
Let’s photograph the ant heap
the queen ant
extruding sacks of coffee,
It’s the harvest.
Focus on the sleeping family
cluttering the ditch …
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