12 October 2011

READING plays? (Part 1/2)

I know, right? People read plays all the time, especially so-called playwrighting students. How can I possibly have got through my life so far, had scripts produced, without ever once reading a play? Am I totally bonkersnuts?

My tutor at Traverse Young Writers recently went so far as to say that for leisure, he would much rather read a novel or a book of poetry than a play. I'd love to be scandalised by this, but in fact I agree with him.

Given the choice between watching a play or reading its script, I think most people would side with me on the latter. Plays were meant to be performed, after all, and a lot of interpretive work goes on in the rehearsal studio which the casual play-reader is forced to do all by themselves.

Outside of plays I've performed in, produced, edited, or critiqued for friends, I've never had cause to resort to that weak second option of reading a play.

I've simply never been dry for drama. The fact I neither have not have ever had any money hasn't really mattered. I've been very lucky in that most of the live stage plays I've seen have been on a press ticket, have had friends in them, or have been sponsored in some way by various benefactors - including but not limited to my parents, the government, my schools, my college at university, and rich older men.

Meanwhile hours and hours of screen drama (admittedly of varied quality) has been displayed on my computer screen for free. Whoever invented iPlayer and the BBC's Film Network are very nice people indeed.

Despite this unusual access, I've never seen or read some of the greats of the dramatic canon. Death of a Salesman, for example, has completely passed me by. I don't know Look Back in Anger, and I haven't even seen all of old Shakey Spee. I'd like to think my readers will be shocked by these admissions, but I know better.

So a few days ago, I came to the conclusion that if I'm going to talk intelligently about drama and thus learn how write it, I was going to have to bite the bullet and actually read a play.

And so - I did...

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