There are just 2 questions Chris Campbell, Literary Manager for the Royal Court Theatre asks when it comes to considering a play: 1 – how do we live now? and 2 – what is a play? These at first seem ambiguous and even possibly like trick questions. But they are not. Campbell is interested in what things people have to say about the world now. Successful plays such as Linda, by Penelope Skinner, Teh Internet is Serious Business by Tim Price and Constellations by Nick Payne, Campbell feels answers both these questions adequately. For an emerging writer, spending time with someone who selects scripts for production is invaluable. If the advice to me was, if the play I’m writing or have written can answer the 2 questions, then I’m on the right track. He went on to say that we should be seeing as many plays as we can. This is probably an obvious one, so the examples of plays mentioned above – I purposefully haven’t put what they’re about because – well, we should have all seen them (!)
And it’s all about the writers too. According to Campbell, “regular people don’t write plays.” He went on to explain how Tim Crouch and Byrony Kimmings are certainly not regular people. It’s like debbie tucker green (sic) who spells her name and the name of her plays in lowercase. Definitely not regular. All three of these examples have had their plays described as, “experimental”, “wickedly warming,” “circles elegantly around ideas of presence and absence.” These playwrights and their plays are being talked about, discussed, critiqued and reviewed. They talk about life (question 1): bereavement, depression, guilt, love – but always gets you thinking and re-thinking what a play is (question 2).
Up next is a review of You For Me For You by Mia Chung which is a play that definitely sits comfortably with the above.