I'm used to workshopping my stories, of course -- I'm one of those writers who ardently seeks feedback, from pretty much anyone willing to take a look at my manuscript. Please, please, tell me what you think. Ideally, tell me you love it, just as it is, but if there's something you think could be better, tell me that too. I'll think about it, and maybe I'll revise along the lines you want. Or maybe not. Because in the end, the story is mine, all mine -- at least until it's published, at which point, it becomes the reader's story too.
Theatre is so different. The workshop process is similar, although with more pieces to it. Table reading. Staged reading. Feedback from actors, director, maybe from a playwriting instructor, if you're lucky. That last bit isn't so different from my graduate fiction classes, but the whole actor/director interaction is fascinating and disturbing. I find myself wanting to control it all. I write little tone notes in the manuscript: [snarky] or [long pause] or [awkward silence]. I write them knowing there's good chance the director will throw those out entirely. I restrain myself from writing long explanations of the character's motivations at this particular moment -- "No, see, of course she's angry, but wouldn't say that she's angry, because that's not how she interacts, so I need you to do something to show she's angry..." I can't write all that in the manuscript.
All I can do is give them the dialogue, perhaps a tiny bit of stage business here and there. Give them the words, hand over my trust, and walk away. Hoping that between my words, the director's vision, and the actors' talents, something magic will evolve.
Do you know the joke about the control freak?
Control freak....now you say, 'Control freak who?'
Yeah. This playwriting thing -- it's not for the faint of heart.