tue 17/10/2017

First Person

'I come from there': how the Royal Court brought home plays from Ukraine, Chile and Syria

The autumn season of plays at the Royal Court leads with international work. B by Guillermo Calderón (from Chile), Bad Roads by Natal'ya Vorozhbit (from Ukraine) and Goats by Liwaa Yazji (from Syria) have a long history with our international...

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'First read-throughs have magic': Simon Stephens on Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle

All theatre workers have a day that they dread. For actors there is a particular terror about a first preview that can fuel those performances with adrenaline. For playwrights - well, for me at least - it is the first time a play is ever read out...

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'I’d never written a play as a single action before': David Eldridge on 'Beginning'

My friend, the playwright Robert Holman, says that the writing of a play is always “the product of a moment”. Of course, he’s right, but sometimes you have to pick your moment.In autumn 2015 a TV writing gig hadn’t worked out in the way that I’d...

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'Fanny Price’s pained silences gave me the impulse to write music for her'

When I first read Mansfield Park, some 30 years ago, I heard music. That doesn’t always happen when I read, and it certainly didn’t happen when I read other novels by Jane Austen. There is something about this particular book that provoked musical...

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'Making it new' - Blake Morrison on adaptation, and how his new play came to life

Is there anything more terrifying for a playwright than the first day of rehearsals? For months, even years, you’ve been working and reworking the text, saying the words aloud to yourself in an empty room and imagining the actors saying them to a...

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'No matter where our intersections lie, we are all fundamentally connected'

Trouble in Mind, written by Alice Childress, the black actress, playwright and novelist, first opened at New York’s Greenwich Mews Theatre in November 1955. The show made Childress the first African-American woman to win an Obie Award for an off-...

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'We're Still Here': Rachel Trezise on her NTW play about Port Talbot steelworkers

I’ve always written alone. As a novelist, that’s what you do. Sit around in your pyjamas composing sentences that come almost entirely from your own imagination. It’s difficult sometimes to conjure the self-discipline required to complete a draft in...

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Aspiration, ecstasy, melancholy: 'The Tale' of Torbay

A dark star explodes. I cannot remember the future. A figure appears on the beach. We're always reaching out. It's always just over there. We're always dreaming. The grey rocks, the red sand, the blue sea. Everywhere, the sea. Everything you ever...

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'The kaleidoscope of an entire lifetime of memories'

When director Bruce Guthrie first gave me the script for Man to Man by Manfred Karge, I was immediately mesmerised by the language, each of the 27 scenes leapt off the page. Some are a few short sentences, other pages long; every one a...

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The 'self-experimenter': Howard Brenton on Strindberg in crisis

I wrote The Blinding Light to try to understand the mental and spiritual crisis that August Strindberg suffered in February 1896. Deeply disturbed, plagued by hallucinations, he holed up in various hotel rooms in Paris, most famously in the Hotel...

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Christopher Shinn: 'I did not know if I would be alive and someone wanted me to write a play'

Plays do not usually come into being in isolation. When I search my gmail archive I see that my first communication with Robert Icke about a commission came in April 2012. Rupert Goold and Rob were still at Headlong then. I was busy so asked that we...

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Emma Dibdin: 'Being scared of something is a sign you should write about it'

When I began writing my first novel four years ago, there were a few ideas that had coalesced in my mind. I knew I wanted to write a thriller about mental illness through the eyes of a young woman whose family had been defined by it; someone...

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