Playing About

Went to Glasgow at the weekend, to see a director about a play. It's an idea I've been mulling over for a while - in those moments between trying to earn a living - thinking - as you do - 'I want to write about that, that person, that situation, that time and place, and those ideas' - but not quite sure how to find a way into it. The director is young, and that's good too: uncynical, full of imagination and enthusiasm. I love writing for theatre, but periodically become disillusioned, mostly because finding outlets for drama is quite hard, even with a track record. But there's a part of me that adores collaboration, that loves the process - you work away at something in the privacy of your room, in the privacy of your head, and then you take a deep breath and dive into the development/rehearsal process. What emerges is - often - somewhat different from your original intentions - but if you're lucky, it's better! I love that precarious sense of holding on, and then letting go - the sense that it could all go horribly wrong, but usually doesn't, the sense of something growing and changing which is what theatre is all about. But I couldn't work like that all the time - I confess. Which is why I spend a lot of time writing prose as well. And then I get sick of my room, the blank screen, the loneliness - and have a sudden hankering for plays and players, for looking at interesting spaces and faces, and listening to words - for the sheer excitement of working in theatre all over again.


L.A. DeVaul said…
Wow! I have never written a play. But you make it sound so wonderful, intense, exciting, and frightening.

I used to work in the theatre as a costume designer, but have never attempted writing one. I am afraid of a new format.
Ah you should try it - particularly since you've already worked in theatre! It's scary, but I find it more exciting than any other form of writing. Everything makes a difference - director, cast, lighting, sound, costume - and the audience. I miss it when I don't do it, but don't think I could do it all the time!
L.A. DeVaul said…
I think I will someday. Right now I write novels, and I feel so free in that format. I would have to practice how to move around in a new format.

Did writing plays come naturally or was it uncomfortable at first?
Mary Gray said…
I've gotten to know L.A. in the blogging world and she mentioned your site because I just posted something about the idea of writing screenplays. And--duh--plays can be even better! I acted a ton in high school so why didn't I think of that? I love to write, I love to act, what a perfect combination.

I'm currently working on my second novel. LOVE the realm of fiction.

Where did you gain your knowledge for writing for theater?
I started writing plays for radio, a long time ago - mainly, I suppose, because I listened to a lot of radio drama when I was a kid. Radio was a good medium for drama back then. I've done about 200 hours of BBC radio drama - a lot of plays, although I don't write for radio now - I've probably done enough! But that lead me into theatre although the two are very different. I wrote poetry and plays, then stories and plays - then novels and plays - but even though there are long gaps, I always come back to plays. And especially stage plays. Theatre is probably the least prescriptive medium in the world. I know a number of actors who also write for theatre - I think it helps, so you should go for it!