Drama - According to
One of my favourite literary quotes came from the late
American short-story writer Raymond Carver, who is famous
for his ‘pared down’ stories; little slices of
dysfunctional American lives in which not a word is wasted,
where not a sentence is misplaced. When asked what his favourite
hobby was, Carver replied ‘taking words out of my stories.’
Carver didn’t waste a word. He was a perfectionalist
minimalist. He could make a semi colon resound. He is then,
a difficult choice of author to dramatise. What’s the
point of messing with perfection?
Robert Altman transferred a number of Carver’s stories
to film in Short Cuts, sewing them together to make a feature
length movie. It wasn’t a disaster, but it was a disappointment.
Carver long became Carver lite. Theatre director William Gaskill,
who came out of a ten-year retirement to dramatise five of
Carver’s stories for the Arcola Theatre in London last
year, was much more loyal to the original texts, recognising
that there is always drama in the writer’s work. That
there is no need for embellishment. He stuck to the narrative
of the original characters, and didn’t change the dialogue.
The director will present two of the stories at Charleston
tonight: Cathedral and Put Yourself in My Shoes. It’ll
be fascinating to see if Gaskill manages to make Carver ‘work’
on stage: most critics of the London show agree that he did.