A Reflection on Developing a Writer’s Aesthetic

  • Artifice/realism, detachment/immersion – I’m definitely interested in audience engagement. Making audiences feel is critical for writers. I also want the audience to be critical, to think, to question, to be uncomfortable. I think theatre should call for active participation by the audience, otherwise, they may as well be sitting in front of the television.

  • Risk/control – My preference is dependant on the type of work being created. In a fringe theatre environment, or theatre as social practise, audience participation and using random stimuli makes sense. In more conventional theatre, a certain about of improvisation and development during the rehearsal process also makes sense, but this is more about contextualising the work to the time the place and the context it is being performed.

  • Linear/non-linear – I tend to prefer non-chronological narratives but I tend to write more chronological circular narrative, I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s a more accepted convention. I need to think more about this and try to break the habit.

  • Near-far/scale –In film scripts I tend to use a wide view and use urban settings. In plays, I tend to create urban or domestic scenes, much more close up than films and much more internally focused.

  • Soothe/disrupt – I think I fit in a cynical, provocateur storyteller category, or at least I aspire to be.

  • Collusion/manipulation – Technology is really important. The digital disruption that seems to have occurred in most areas of our lives still hasn’t deeply affected theatre. This is inherently risky, with audiences of the future being digital natives, there are questions to be answered on how to harness technology to both engage these audiences, and to keep theatre craft current. The challenge is, I’m not sure it’s possible in film at least, to use technology in a way that keeps the work current but doesn’t badly date it over time.

  • Physical/intellectual – how important is accessibility to you? Accessibility should be a standard consideration when creating and producing work. In truth, I don’t think I consider it as much as I should in the writing process. Something to work on.

  • Rough/glossy? Familiar/exotic? Heightened/realism? Comedy/tragedy?Black comedy seems to be my default approach, with characters that are a bit gritty, with lots to say, and loads of feisty women!

  • Individual/community – I love the idea of art as social practice, and am inspired by its use in history; the happenings of the ’60s, and the all the political theatre prior, from Brecht to the ancient Greeks. In previous years, I would have firmly put my interest in this space, but over time I’ve moved more towards the hero’s journey, with social/political themes, but in a more mainstage theatre style.

Header image photo courtesy of Hannah Jacobson on Unsplash

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