Last weekend I attended the 20/20 Playwriting/Pedagogy conference run by The Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at Birmingham University. It was great to meet up with old friends, meet some new friends and listen to some interesting and inspiring papers. The US playwriting/pedagogy scene (with its much longer history of teaching playwriting) was well represented and produced some interesting insights.
The conference celebrated the 20th anniversary of the MA/MPhil(B) in Playwriting Studies – Britain’s first postgraduate playwriting course. I attended the course in 1999/2000 and was one of 20 graduates commissioned to write a 10 minute play to be performed at the conference.
The play, A Page Turner, was directed by Gwenda Hughes and performed by third year undergraduates. There were two shows of ten plays each. The productions were very good – casts moving from one play to the next with ease.
For the first time ever I didn’t attended rehearsals of the first production of one of my plays (I don’t think any of the playwrights did). Seeing the play for the first time, I wished I’d cut more heavily. It makes me realise how much I rely on a dialogue with the director and actors to fine tune my work. I’m not a naturally authoritarian author. Something to work on.
The weekend was a boost for my writing. After a long time away from the stage and rehearsal room you forget what a buzz it is to be around theatre (and radio drama) makers.