There are seven basic plots.
I know this. Because I read it in a book.
(That’s a variation on joke that probably didn’t go over too well – you know, Do you believe everything you read?…Anyway, moving on.)
Each kind of story and every kind of story fits into one of these seven categories or some combination of these categories. And each kind of story has its own specific qualities as to the hero’s or heroine’s journey, the obstacles and accomplishments encountered and achieved, the lessons learned and the personal truths that can only be revealed by the adventure.
I know. Who cares?
But we should.
That’s the thing about working on a script, a role, a production. It really is a collaborative pursuit. (This is probably true of most things in life. There are very few things that aren’t collaborative. ) And I don’t mean in the touchy-feely sense. For me, collaboration is a somewhat violent experience. The clash of opinions, of wills, of insecurities and ignorance. Oftentimes, I find myself arguing or resisting opinion because I don’t understand my role in the production and my purpose in the story. I’ve failed to ask myself, How do I serve the writer here? Why is my character necessary to the story? I fail to recognize that the story isn’t about me. That I am a part serving the whole. Perhaps most actors don’t encounter this flaw in their creative character, but more often than I care to admit I have to remind myself to ask the question: What do I need to do so that my partner can play her part and do her work to the best of her ability so that the story achieves its full power and impact upon the audience? (Truth be told, I don’t think in the heat of rehearsal I’ve asked myself such a long-winded and awkwardly phrased question. It’s more like, Dude, you gotta get better ‘cuz right now you suck.)
The more I fully understand storytelling, the better I serve the story. And the more I
serve the story’s needs, the more I meet the needs of the cast, the director, the playwright and the audience.