‘Letter to My Fellow Writers’ round up- with Chinonyerem Odimba
In a brand new series in partnership with tiata fahodzi @TiataFahodzi Artistic Director and Chief Executive Chinonyerem Odimba invited us to ‘Letters to Fellow Writers’ …
The process of creating a play, of writing, is full of questions and through the process writers might feel overwhelmed with questions about what they are doing, why they are doing it, how to do it, what their intention is and whether they should just stop and do something that doesn’t take up so much of their emotion, soul and psyche. Writing can also be a lonely pursuit – it remains up to the playwright to create the world of the play, tell a fascinating story, take characters on huge journeys, transform audiences and evoke truthful emotion coupled with soaring imagination. However, we must not forget that theatre is a collaboration and a conversation – perhaps this conjures more intense feelings as we welcome audiences back to theatres after the periods of closure. Holding the same space, breathing the same air and feeling the same emotions can be cherished and celebrated again. But the weight of that can be heavy on writers – that every word has to “really matter”, that what they say needs to “really matter”, that their connection to an audience “really matters”. There is also fun and joy and escape to be found in writing – it is “play”. I observe audiences returning to the theatre and experiencing an enjoyment in returning to childlike play, engaging our imaginations and telling a really good story that you want to share with everyone.
Recognising the weight of the pressure is important. Vulnerability is, I believe, crucial to the role of the playwright and the creation of theatre. Feeling the vulnerability and fear of the creative process is a strength. Don’t turn away from it. The small team working on the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting believe that it is important that we try to find ways to support anyone interested in writing and help them to feel less alone with the questions they are grappling with and the emotional tussle that comes with writing. So we challenged some of our most exciting artists and writers with questions that we know they think about and share their experiences.
From writers who struggle with the constant urge to procrastinate, to how we might just have some fun with our writing, this series has tried to welcome you to try different techniques and processes to support your creativity. As we continue to exist with the uncertainty that the pandemic has placed on so many artists, we have explored how we fall back in love with writing when we feel the pressure on us to be constantly productive and performative, to thinking with excitement and joy about the impact we want to have on a live audience. How do we make sure these questions are compassionate and open? Through letters to writers, challenges and lists, diary entries, observations and exercises, these contributors have embraced their vulnerability and we are immensely grateful for the honesty and openness of their contribution to this series.
As we continue to build the resources on the website and conclude Dramatists Toolkit #3, we hope you are feeling supported, validated and inspired to keep writing, keep going, dive deeper into your work and ride the waves of creativity as your play emerges.