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Drama - According to Carver

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. AL

Raymond Carver: a man of few words
Charleston Farmhouse, Firle
When? 8-10pm
How Much? £10
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