Never Produced to Order
Post #1495 • January 13, 2012, 11:53 AM • 3 Comments
Ideas are never produced to order, they cannot be summoned on demand. They simply arrive and present themselves. Or they don't.
The knack is to recognise them when they do occur, for very often, they don't come ready formed—behold, here I am, a full-length play complete with first-act curtain. On the contrary, they come as scruffy disjointed fragments, their potential barely visible. Nonetheless, you would do well to welcome them, for they are too precious to ignore, even the most unpromising of them. Examine an idea, any idea or theme with respect and diligence. Maybe in the end it is not for you but for someone else to write, But be careful what you discard. Store it away. It may be that later this unpromising duckling will re-present itself as a thing of swan-like beauty. ...
Before I arrived as a the Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford, I had invited playwrights of any age or experience to submit work, either still in progress or recently completed. From the forty or fifty entries I received, I selected about a dozen writers whom I felt showed some sort of promise. I had an idea in may head that during the year I would coax them and their work to fruition and, using the funds available to me, direct two or three of the best of them using professional actors. In the end, apart from one, no one seemed to write anything further of any significance during the entire year. The exception was a student who wrote, apparently in the space of a few days, a fifty-minute play of considerable promise which I did produce at the Old Fire Station Theatre. Well, perhaps a on-in-ten success rate wasn't so bad, I reassured myself. But the day after my sole triumph opened its young author broke it to me that he wasn't at all interested in writing anything further and saw his future in television as a researcher. Ah, well.