Is this how Shakespeare felt?

Despite a love of English literature as a whole, there are obviously some parts than I love and some that I loathe. I have never been a fan of poetry; obviously there are some parts that I really like, but they tend to be the simple stuff like Betjeman. (If you ask anyone what poet they really like, I guarantee you that it’ll be one they studied. Noone seems to travel outside of their studies in the world of poetry. I find it far easier to name poets that I dislike; Pound, Bishop and Dove are ones that spring to mind. (I can just hear my personal tutor at uni telling me off as I write this.)

When it comes to drama though, I’m a completely different kettle of fish. I love drama of all ages and types. I love the good old renaissance stuff – Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson and that malarkey. Then the modern stuff is brilliant too – Pinter, Stoppard, Osborne and I could go on, but I risk losing my (one) reader. I don’t know whether it is because you can visualise drama in front of you and can envisage how the characters would react or whether it is just because I’m too stupid to look for the hidden meanings and messages in all that dreary poetry. You can shape drama however you like; half of the interpretation can be created in the performance. (Wow, my old tutor, Grace would be proud of me.)

I also love performance, whether it is comedy or drama, I love seeing something live. Seeing something live always involves risk, especially in a lot of the improv shows that I like to see – they could mess up, but surely that’s the excitement? If you get to see them make a mistake or corpse, you have seen something that hundreds of others have missed. I would rather see people take the risk trying to create something amazing and failing slightly than see something mediocre that is the same, night on night.

I think this is what was running through my mind on the evening that I volunteered to write a play. Whilst I was at uni, I had a go at writing some comedy and scripts with comedy compadre (and ex-blogger) Jo. Sadly, we only realised about our common love and ambition in our third year, so we never managed to be a part of any tacky uni revues or the such like. Still, we spent far longer on our uni based comedy than we did on our actual work. It didn’t come to anything, but we had such fun writing it and imagining it. So in a momentary pause between all the mad things I am trying to cram into my life at the moment, I sat down on twitter to find the Director of the Nottingham Comedy Festival asking Jo to write a play. The phrase that comes to mind for what I did next is “speak in haste, repent at leisure.” I daftly volunteered that we would write a play. But Helen, the lovely NCF Director, seems to have taken us very seriously. She has offered to cast it and direct it, which means that we really do have to write something.

All of this sounds like I don’t want to do it and I do, but I’m petrified. For a start, I am so manically busy for the next month, I can’t even remember my own name without getting in a flap, let alone penning a play. But the most terrifying part of it is, what if it’s appalling? What if it turns out that neither Jo or I can write for diddly squat? I’m not sure that I’m ready to find that out just yet. I really love the modern style plays where it is very static and not much happens, which is handy as they say you must write about what you know and it turns out, I know very little. Seriously though, I really like the kind of plays where very little happens and I happened upon the scripts of Jim Sweeney’s plays on his website, which has been a godsend. The way the characters speak sounds so natural and it made me realise that not that much has to happen to make a really interesting story.

So, after some brainstorming and waking up in the middle of the night, I have had some promising ideas. Now to turn those ideas into a reality in between the bouts of regret, self hatred, doubt and diminishing confidence. I’m sure everyone has the same feelings before they begin writing. Is this how bloody Shakespeare felt before he started his first play?

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Catherine
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 20:58:20

    Wow! Best of luck with this one. I have every faith that you will rise to the challenge!
    I’ll look forward to your updates via Twitter!

    Cat

    Reply

    • sillybry
      Aug 06, 2010 @ 05:10:48

      You have faith? Fantastic! Well, Helen is taking it very seriously and is telling us she wants meetings with us and all sorts, which is a little overwhelming because it reminds me that it is indeed going to happen whether I like it or not.
      I’m away from about the 19th August to the 9th September with various work trips, so I guess it won’t start too quickly!

      Reply

  2. Elizabeth
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 15:34:37

    Ohmygod, that’s so exciting! A real play! I’d be terrified as well, but I think you’ll do brilliantly. Good luck!

    Reply

  3. Trackback: It’s Play Time « That Jo Eden

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