REPOST: Lyndsey Turner- Why write?

During this public health emergency, the safety and wellbeing of our staff, artists, audiences and families comes first.

We have been exploring ways in which we can all remain connected and optimistic. The Bruntwood Prize has always been about much more than the winners. It is about opening up playwriting to anyone and everyone, to support anyone interested in playwriting to explore the unique power of creative expression. Therefore we want to make this website a resource now for anyone and everyone to explore theatre and plays and playwriting.  

In 2017 Judge and Director Lyndsey Turner wrote a special series of provocations for stage writers. To begin- why write? 


Selfishly speaking, if people like you don’t write plays, then people like me will have nothing to direct. When I read a play for the first time, I am not looking for ‘polish’, I’m looking for something that feels alive, that feels as if it wants to vibrate off the page into the bodies of actors and through them to a living audience. I don’t need a play to be smart or well made, and I don’t need a writer to be polite, or to make my job easy. My heart sinks a little when I meet writers to talk about their plays and they tell me the moments, scenes, images and provocations which they wanted to include but didn’t, fearful that they would be ‘unstageable’ or somehow greedy. Messy plays are good, impossible plays are often great. The only bad plays are the dead plays. And the worst thing you could do is to retro-engineer a drama from a perception of a ‘functional’ piece of writing. It seems to me that the world isn’t terribly functional, so I don’t expect a play to tidy up human experience, emotion or behaviour.

My challenge would be for you to set pen to paper (or finger to laptop) with a purity of intention, unfettered by the compromise and muddiness which often come when we try to squeeze ourselves into more pleasing shapes. I dare you to write a play which makes someone like me really earn their money when they come to direct it.

Published on:
10 Oct 2020


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