Showing posts from August, 2010

The Art of Survival

There’s an interesting discussion going on at The Guardian’s Noises off theatre blog surrounding the question of whether it’s possible for an artist to make a living in theatre. Well, all but a tiny fraction of us already know the answer to that, but it has generated some very interesting debates, including some intriguing arguments on subsidizing the arts. I’ve posted my humble contribution below:

Even putting the current economic situation aside, I don’t think we’ll ever arrive at a time when the government decides it’s a good idea to support all artists with a living wage if they’re unable to support themselves by their work alone. It just won’t happen. Therefore, anyone opting to pursue a career in theatre must surely acknowledge that in doing so they will have no guarantee of financial security and will almost always have to support themselves in other ways…unless they get very lucky. We can all look enviously at someone whose wealthy parents subsidize their endeavors, but the tru…


Aside from the ability to actually write a good play, one of the most critical assets a playwright must possess in this toughest of businesses is tenacity. This has been proven to me time and again, and I will illustrate my point with the following example:

A couple of years ago I had submitted a script of mine to a prestigious theatre festival in New York (not the Fringe, I should add). The play was rejected. The following year I submitted again to the very same festival…with the very same play. It was accepted. Not only that, but I was informed by one of the curators of the festival that it was the first play she’d read and the first play she’d accepted into the festival.

Interestingly enough, I have a very similar situation happening right now with another theatre…and with the very same play.

The lesson: No doesn’t mean yes, but it doesn’t always mean no, either. Yes or no?

Thrill Me With Your Acumen

I came across an interesting article a couple of days ago on the subject of whether or not playwriting can be taught. This isn’t the first discussion on the topic, nor is the argument confined to playwriting – one could ask that of any of the arts – but it is a good article and includes of lot of opinions from some very interesting people.

I have always been of the opinion that, no, it cannot be taught. Or perhaps I should qualify that by saying I don’t believe it’s possible for someone else to teach you to write a play, but if you have a natural affinity for it, it’s entirely possible for you to teach yourself to write a play. That, to me, is at the crux of the argument – that you have to have that inherent ability within you. It can be coaxed out under the right circumstances, but if it's not there to begin with, it’s impossible to manufacture or “teach” that ability. Yes, you can give anyone a pen and paper and they could string together some dialogue for a few characters and a…