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Is The Playwright Actually Important?

September 29, 2017

In our culture why are we so bothered about playwrights?



David Hare talks of the Royal Court Theatre being the building that should find the "voice of the nation" and stage their plays for the world to reflect on it's self via the magnifier of the Royal Court. Spoiler: He's wrong.


It's about time we took playwright's off their pedastel. There is absolutely no chance that we should pay Playwright's any more reverence any other pissed up big mouth in the pub. Sound harsh? Well then here's my thinking - Playwright's have a paticular skill - their skill is that they are really good at writing plays. That's what they're good at - in the same way you'd hope that directors are good at directing, actors are good at acting, and designers are good at designing. Now we've established that we can assume that they're best at this skill when they're find way's to theatricalise a subject matter. That's their job - to theatricalise a subject matter well. 


In order to tackle the subject matter you'd hope that the writer spent a lot of time immersed in the world that they're writing about - enough time so they feel that world emotionally and understand it intellectually - you'd like to think that they become engaged in what they're writing about politically, socially, humanly, religiously and all the ways you'd like anyone writing about anything to be engaged with. But still the product of all this is never "The Playwright's Thesis On The Issue That Prophesises A Future" it's a theatricalised and dramatised account of the world as it in lived in shaped by the Playwright with a call for the change the world the playwright immersed themselves in wants to see.


What it should never be is "The Playwright looking in on a world and a problem" but "A Playwright staging the concerns of the world on he stage and hoping a world where their problems are gone". Playwrighting should not be an intellectual excercise - it should be an excercise in staging the concerns of the world so we can hope for a better one. The Playwright isn't important - it's the world they put on stage that's important. Lets stop pretending playwrights are "the voice of the nation" and credit them for what they are - skilled craftspeople that put the voice of the worlds concerns on stage.


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