The first thing I have learnt recently is that if you book tickets through the Vue website and want to see something at Westfield Stratford, it’s not Westfield London, it’s Stratford City! I did not see Behind the Beautiful Forevers, but I did get a refund. My purse and body were actually quiet grateful as I was poor and tired. So instead of doing a review for that, I thought I’d talk more about Out of Essex: Theatre and what I actually learnt.
I learnt about the dangers of research. It may sound silly and research is a writer’s favourite form of procrastination but it can be more of a hindrance than a help. Watching a play written by a historian was the dullest thing I have had to endure at a theatre, sorry. In his defence, there were going to be more ‘action’ scenes to interrupt the mundane dripping of dialogue about property law; however, if I didn’t know the plot, I’d have been lost. There is a play in the history somewhere but it’s more important to find the larger truth, explore the themes rather than the facts.
After learning what not to do, we then had Nick Dear that had no rules and just wrote, just writes. Every play seems to have a different approach as it has a different story to tell. For example, Dear has adapted novels such as Frankenstein and Persuasion, but he has also written about historical figures such as William Hogarth and especially for us, Mary Wollstonecraft. Unlike the first playwright, Dear found humans and humour in the tragic story of Wollstonecraft’s life. The larger themes were love and philosophy, which is probably why Dear called the piece Love and Philosophy. We got the feelings right rather than the fact, although it was well researched, drawing from her husband William Godwin’s biography. But you need to know where to stop.
I mentioned before about Dear’s adaptations, to which again there are no rules. He uses a metaphor that he stole from another playwright (I forgot to write down the name). Every play is a hidden world, a hidden world up there on the top of a hill surrounded by a tall impossible wall. But there’s a secret door. The writer only has to find the secret door. ONLY. Once you find the door, the only rule is how much are you getting paid? If you want to write like Nick Dear, just write. Deadline are helpful. Never write history, write empathy for the past. Research is a tool not the work. I’m sure he said it better.