On the MA Dramatic writing us writers were often challenged to try things that might be considered risky. One lesson we were encouraged to write a suicide note – I had a go at this writing exercise (it was called Back To Life and is on Soundcloud). Having been given this challenge was liberating in the best possible way. Sometimes you need permission from another person to go to these places. It’s liberating, and it is very risky. Yet it poses existential questions that are very healthy to engage with. That’s what writing is. Risky business. With rewards. You are going to upset people, and very possibly yourself. That’s what being in the world is.
I’ve always had an enormous respect for the writers who were part of my education, and it has been brilliant to see their work, listen to their writing, and have an opportunity to be a part of their thinking about the world and what is going on in it. One of the things that inspires me is the respect they have for each other, going back years. Years and years. Even with all the developments, and the innovations, and the continually changing landscape – there is a continuity and respect that is apparent. We all know writing is a risky business, and you just know those writers who are doing great things are part of a writing ecology that is delicate and subject to disaster – but also capable of flourishing. Those writers are extraordinary, and they endure. And they are aware that many don’t.
It’s not all a rose garden, of course it isn’t. Every occupation has its shadow. But from what I could glean from my time on the MA at Drama Centre, there is a lot of courage and respect going on in New Writing. There are people who want to drive positive and lasting change that we could all benefit from. The rewards in the theatre would be excellent, as is the possibility that this change (or innovation) might have something to say about the world we live in.
I was especially interested (this is my concealed objective) in seeing and hearing all these writers because I only know their work (and in some cases not as well as I should) – so an opportunity like a symposium gives me a chance to see these writers together, talking about the theatre and the world. It’s salient to see this side of things, because its part of the industry, and it’s informative. It helps you see a little further and in a different way.
On the MA we were also asked to write a love letter. I am currently working on that. Love is a tricky thing, because my idea of what it means is constantly changing, and like time it means that what was there yesterday is no guarantee of what will be there tomorrow. Today, the best you can hope for is that your love is wanted – love transforms. Hopefully we’ll all keep changing.