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Exposure of young writers: Moses Raine

I saw Shrieks of Laughter by 21 year old Moses Raine at the Soho Theatre on Saturday.

I thought Maria Aberg did very well directing a difficult play. Difficult because there were many gaps which the actors and directors had to fill and which the playwright did not fill. Moses Raine’s voice, language and ideas certainly merit performance in my mind.

However, there was some criticism that Raine had been exposed too early. In fact, Mark Godfrey from the Soho had to write to the Guardian to defend the Soho’s choice.

Even given the mitigating circumstances of Raine growing up with a poet father (Craig Raine) and director/writer older sister (Nina Raine) and presumably a heightened awareness of artistic exposure, how on earth is a young playwright expected to learn if he or she does not go down the process of putting on a play?

Theatre unlike many other arts is only “finished” as a performance. You can’t properly read it or go to it in a museum.

I posit what Raine would have learnt from the whole process would more than outweigh any negatives from exposure. And besides as long as people are broadly constructive when engaging with Raine’s work, then I see no downside.

We must continue to bring new writers and directors and give them work and places to perform or how else can we learn?

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3 Responses to “Exposure of young writers: Moses Raine”

  1. sam on June 13th, 2006

    Fair point, as a new writer myself I fully understand the need to encourage new writing in London theatres, however, having seen Moses Raine’s play, I dont know if it was fully developed and ready for a showing at Soho. I do feel it was rushed for production – perhaps for the fantastic media coup of seeing two siblings with a famous surname have their plays on at the same time was too good an opportunity to miss – as a result they did get a lot of press coverage – much more than most new writers get. Also at a running time of 50 minutes – plus with a ticket price of £20 – I think it was asking a bit too much.

  2. Ben Yeoh on June 13th, 2006

    I take your point, but I think that’s a judgement call on the play itself which may or may not have anything to do with his age… if he was older would it have been any more developed? I don’t know. Anyway, thanks for leaving a comment.

  3. AndrewE on June 26th, 2006


    I also saw that production and wrote about it here:

    I agree with what you say – there has to be an outlet for upcoming writers to test their way, but to some extent I would argue that there is. As I’m sure you know, you can find quite a few London fringe venues putting on ‘scratch-nights’ every month like the BAC and Theatre 503 (subverse). These are testing grounds and scouting places for new writing/work and represent a niche for writers who aren’t fortunate to get read at Soho or The Royal Court et al.

    Moses Raine’s piece had its flaws but showed some great potential and I’m sure his work will go from strength to strength as a result of the experience.

    To play the devil’s advocate on this debate I ask: should an audience pay 10-15 pounds to see novice work?

  • About me

    I'm a playwright and investment analyst. I have a broad range of interests: food, gardening, innovation & intellectual property, sustainability, architecture & design, writing and the arts. I sit on the board of Talawa Theatre Company and advise a CIS investment trust on socially responsible investments.

  • Recent Work

    Recent plays include, for theatre: Nakamitsu, Yellow Gentlemen, Lost in Peru, Lemon Love. For radio: Places in Between (R4), Patent Breaking Life Saving (WS).

  • Nakamitsu

  • Yellow Gentlemen