Feature: Theatre Writing

Date posted: 26 Nov 2013Author: STC

In this collection of lectures, essays and articles, we look at the art of theatre writing from every which way. From the practical to the philosophical, from the personal to the political these are thoughts worth bookmarking.


Tony KushnerWe Call That Failure Art

Tony Kushner on what it is to be a playwright.

"... I wanted to try to write a speech about writing, which is ostensibly among my assignments tonight. Wanting to try to write about writing is different from wanting to write about writing, or actually writing about it. At fifty-seven years of age, having made my living as a playwright, I feel I ought to be able to write about writing. I've tried on several previous occasions and I've always failed, sometimes at great length. I'm about to fail again. Here goes..."


Julia JordanA Faint-Hearted Feminist

Julia Jordan investigates gender bias towards playwrights.

"... I have never given an interview to promote a play where the headline and the bulk of the article didn't end up focusing on the fact that I was a female writer who was actually getting a production. I've had artistic directors of Tony Award-winning regional theaters tell me that they would be more likely to produce my work if I would write something with a male lead, because that's what (they said) the audiences preferred. (There's ample evidence that the opposite is true, by the way.)..."


Harold PinterArt, Truth & Politics

Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize speech (video version).

"... Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many..." 


Nakkiah LuiStories That Offend Your Mother

Nakkiah Lui on what it is to be a playwright.

"... The arts are about you, your history, your life and everything you experience through it. You are your own framework for creating work. It's about asking questions you don't know the answer to. It's showing the world what hurts to be exposed - showing the inner most parts of yourself, telling those stories. As an artist these are my constants. The memories, feelings and experiences I always go back to, that I try and recreate in any way I can..."


Andrew UptonThe Resonating Space

Andrew Upton's 2012 Phillip Parsons Memorial Lecture.

"... For Peter Brook, famously, theatre was best encapsulated in the definition: The Empty Space. But I don't think it is an empty space in the same way I don't think that an acoustic guitar shoved full of clothes suddenly becomes a suitcase. There is more going on than emptiness, even in his elegant definition at the beginning of the book, because there is also watching and playing and, from these, associations. And those associations and wonderings, those images conjured, can be ordered and tweaked and made to resonate..."


Miriam GillinsonPractical Tips for Playwrights

Miriam Gillinson looks at the nuts and bolts of writing a new play.

"... But playwriting isn't just about instinct, integrity and heart - it is also about pragmatism. I read for a number of theatres and playwriting competitions and I'm surprised how often writers neglect the practical side of playwriting: the presentation of the play, the lay-out, stage directions and even the cast list - all these aspects matter greatly..."


Andrew BovellFunny Things Happen to Writers in Taxis

Andrew Bovell speaks about being a writer, his mistakes and how writing can make sense of the world.  Audioor video.

"... Sometimes I wish I was a landscape gardener - out in the sun all day in a garden instead of a dark office with the blinds drawn, the only source of light coming from the laptop screen, empty coffee cups, the crusts of yesterday's sandwich, unpaid bills, notes scrawled on pieces of paper and a line of emails reminding me that the draft was due last month..."