Should I stop writing this play?

I’ve been working on a play for a few weeks now, which I intend to be an exploration of sexuality from a moral perspective. I’ve written a few scenes with some vulgar words, mainly to emphasize how college kids talk, but I plan on having scenes later in the play that illuminate those language choices as poor.

Should I stop this?

I’ve been working on a play for a few weeks now, which I intend to be an exploration of sexuality from a moral perspective. I’ve written a few scenes with some vulgar words, mainly to emphasize how college kids talk, but I plan on having scenes later in the play that illuminate those language choices as poor.

Should I stop this?

I don’t see a reason to stop writing. If upon rereading it, you feel the need to edit it in a way to make it more appropriate, then that’s what proof-reading is for. Are you writing the play for school? It might be really unwise to include profanity in that case.

It depends on a few things: the level of vulgarity of the words, the context in which they are spoken, and the audience to whom this play is intended.

In any case, I would suggest not getting too vulgar. We don’t want to offend your audience.

The context is very important. When vulgar words are spoken, make sure it is patently obvious that the person speaking those words is the “bad guy”, so to speak, at least in that point of the play.

The audience to whom this play is pitched should be of the right age to not be scandalized by the vulgarity. If you intend it for highschool kids, then try to say on the safer side of borderline. With college kids, you might be able to go a little farther, but don’t get carried away.

It’s a very sensitive issue; you don’t want to go too far, but you also want to properly convey the context. Perhaps you should talk with a priest on the morality of having an actor actually speak in a vulgar manner, especially if the words are severely bad; as a Catholic writer, you need be concerned about these things.

The only thing I would say at this point is to restrict (rate) your writings for the appropriate age group. :yup:

The Church has allowed a wide berth for artistic creativity, and I like where you are going with it, and it is important not to be too scrupulous about it. :thumbsup:

If you’ve already written the scenes with vulgar words, by all means do not stop before you get to the later scenes which show those choices to be poor. :stuck_out_tongue: :wink: :smiley:

Grace & Peace!

I think your chief concern should be this: a character’s speech should be consonant with who they are as a character, not in any typological way (i.e., “bad” guy=“bad” speech), but in an authentic way that relates to the various aspects of their personality, their environment, etc. and to how they have learned to use language to get what they want. I was once in a literary office and had to read a play in which a group of high school bullies, mustering up as much bile and hatred as they could manage in order to think of the worst insult they could hurl at their victim, wound up yelling: “titwillow.” It was precious and absurd and funny for all of the wrong reasons. The sort of prudishness which leads to that kind of absurdity is the enemy of authenticity when it comes to depicting or expressing the world as it is.

Considerations of your audience have limited uses. I can only think of two: 1) to better enable you to ingratiate yourself to an audience by meeting their expectations; 2) to better enable you to challenge an audience by subverting or upending their expectations. For me, if I found I could not challenge my audience, I would question whether or not ingratiating myself to it would be in any way worthwhile for anyone involved.

(In general, though, I think it better not to speak too much [or too loosely] of an audience, as if the individual characteristics of the people watching the play are elided by or subsumed into one thing that can be coherently or definitively labelled, defined, etc. Read Howard Barker on this in his book: “Arguments for a Theatre.” His distinction between the Humanist Theater and his own Theater of Catastrophe in this regard is provocative: thewrestlingschool.co.uk/catastrophe.html.)

While I understand that you might feel very strongly about strong language, I have yet to come across anything in a play that attempts to illuminate why “those language choices” are poor (or anything analogous) that did not sound like a tortured public service announcement or that was not representative of a forced moralism. For me, that sort of thing winds up proving that the play was more about making a point than about people, and I would prefer to read a well-written polemical essay than watch a (however well-meaning) polemical play.

There’s no need to apologize for your characters or for you to editorialize in any way in your play. What is more important: the integrity of your play, or the integrity of your message, whatever that might be? The site I linked to above has this wonderful quotation: “In this instance of theatre [the Theater of Catastrophe], the audience is relieved of the infantile burden of being brought to the author’s point of view - who cares about his point of view? - we ask him to be imaginative.” All you need to do is be imaginative. And keep writing!

Under the Mercy,
Mark

All is Grace and Mercy! Deo Gratias!

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