It’s a common theory that writers always write a piece of themselves into everything they create, whether subconsciously or otherwise, be it into every character, plot, dialogue or style. It’s not surprising then that when embarking on the first performance of one of your plays you feel a little like you are stepping out alone onto centre stage…….. into a huge spotlight…….. completely naked! Yes, it’s a scary prospect but one which must be done, and I’m about to do this for the first time inFinland.
Once a writer gets over this initial daunting issue, which they must if they ever want their work to be seen and develop, it’s not actually all that bad. In fact it’s quite a liberating experience. Much of the writer’s working life is spent in solitude, glued to a (mostly blank) screen, with no promise of a pay check and, even worse, no promise that an audience will actually like what you’ve spent months pouring your heart and soul out over…….a miserable set up wouldn’t you say? But then comes the moment when you finish your final draft, someone reads it and enjoys it, and all of a sudden you find yourself holding auditions and giving away the characters that you have nurtured and cared for for many painstakingly long months to a bunch of actors who are about to breathe life into the flat pages of your script. What a great feeling it is to finally see your characters and hear them for the first time.
Finally the lonely writer is permitted to step away from their desk and out of the prison of their own thoughts to actually interact with other people! In so doing though, one has to quickly look at the script from a different angle and ‘change hats’, as it were, morphing from writer into director.
A director has different things to worry about in a script, forcing the writer to quickly form a detachment from their precious baby and start to work on presenting this drama and emotion to an audience as a director. It’s amazing how quickly you can treat the play as ‘a play’ instead of ‘your play’ and, with the help of some great actors, let the characters flourish and grow on their own.
Although exposing and scary, in my view this flight from desk to stage is the most exciting part of the writing process and makes all those dim, lonesome days locked away with the laptop all worthwhile.