Playwright Doug Wright on Creating Characters Out of Real People

There are dangers in creating a fictional work for stage or screen about a real person, as playwright and screenwriter Doug Wright explains: “Whenever you write about a historical figure, some academic slaving away somewhere who’s devoted their entire life to (the subject), and they see in your play or movie, their first opportunity to have a piece in the New York Times to talk about what that author got wrong.”
In the video below, Wright talks about the very different approaches he took in three works of art about actual people — Marquis de Sade in Wright’s play and movie “Quills,” Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’s eccentric family members Edith and Edie Beale in the musical “Grey Gardens,” and the cross-dressing East German Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in Wright’s Tony and Pulitzer winning play “I Am My Own Wife” He spoke at a luncheon for theater critics at Sardi’s.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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