An idea for a new iPhone application, from a playwright.

Developers, take note. But you have to give me credit. I copyright this March 2009, Lindsay Harris Friel, dammit.

The most frequent obstacle that playwrights face is not cruel critics or cowardly audiences. It’s script printing.text

A copy of a full-length script can cost around $20-$25 after it comes out of your friendly neighborhood self-serve copier. If you’ve written something with four characters in it, and you need a copy for your stage manager and director, that’s six copies right there. Without even getting into the deforestation issues, the monetary cost of getting your script physically in the hands of the people who need it most can run into triple digits.

Every single time I print copies, watch the slices of dead trees pile up, and that little counter tally up how much more of my money it’s eating, I feel an ounce of blood slipping away and wonder if it’s worth it to be a playwright. Last time, I thought it would have been more cost-effective and better for my sanity if I had bought six Kindles for the cast, director and stage manager, and found a way to upload the scripts into them.

But you can’t make notes on a Kindle. (Can you? I don’t know, I prefer books that are wireless and never need charging). You can’t write in your blocking or whatever else you need to, and those notes end up being just as important as the original text.

But what about this? What if you integrated the touch-sensitive screen on an iPhone and made a way that you can display the script on a touch-sensitive page so you can add notes to it? True, an iPhone is small enough that your actors would sue you for eye strain by the time all is said and done. and it’s not as satisfying as a big thick meaty juicy script in your hands, getting worn and creased and the edges curling, with pages half falling out. It’s not as nice as being able to look at your penciled and highlighted notes five or ten years later and think ‘we were all so young.” It takes the kinesthetic pleasure out of it. I’m sure every lighting and set designer who had to lug 12 scripts around in their backpack would disagree, and wish they could upload scripts into their iPhone.

We all know an iPhone isn’t cost-effective for the average human (Don’t even think about trying to tell me anything different. If iPhones were reasonably priced, they wouldn’t be the new trophy toy and we would slap people for playing with them while you’re trying to have an actual conversation with them), let alone a working artist. But it’s definitely something to think about.

Check it out, developers! An iPhone app that can have real-world impact.

Oh, fine, go back to watching your Twitter feeds.


~ by manifenestration on March 13, 2009.

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