Thursday, May 02, 2013

no new commissions...


I handed in my last commission about a fortnight ago. 

Its title was “The Queen of Earth and Heaven”. It was for the National Theatre of Scotland. I called it “a sacred performance with songs”.

What usually happens is that I go straight from one commission to the next.

But not this time. There isn’t another one. And no play running anywhere either.

A strange sensation. As far as I can remember, this is the first time this has happened since 1983.

I’m working on something else, of course. I have to. But it’s not a play.

Things will change, one way or another, and I don’t know how. The first half of the year has been utterly different from the year I expected: and the second half, too, will surely surprise me.

But for now it feels as if a profound change has occurred: a profound change in the pattern of my life and work.

Who knows, perhaps the end of an era. Certainly the end of 30 years of continuous writing to commission. Somehow I want to mark it.

Recently I saw a reading of my early play, LOSING VENICE (of 1985), and was profoundly moved to discover it still has life in it.

I so doubted it at the time, I remember. There were moments in rehearsal when it seemed to me like a total disaster. I found myself frequently doubting the value of my new work in exactly the same way. I remember when I was teaching I used to try to tell my students that perhaps the most important thing an artist needs to learn to do is dispassionately evaluate our own work. And sometimes I wouldn't give them end of term marks. I would ask them to evaluate their own work. They hated that. And with reason; perhaps it's impossible. I certainly still don't seem to have learned how to do it.

A huge frustration of working in theatre is that past work generally just disappears: so I think I want to mark this time by looking back.

Looking at what I have written.It’s not for me to judge it, but I feel I should at least acknowledge it. Celebrate it’s there. Count it.

There’s about 70 plays to think about. It’ll be a long job...


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