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New writing at Edinburgh Fringe, Lyn Gardner

Lyn Gardner makes the point that new writing with poor directing and poor production can damage the writing/writer beyond repair (See Here). Equally, good writing can certainly be helped and nurtured by good directors and theatres. I agree, exposure too early on or too harshly can ruin promising writers and writing.

Most writers take a while, usually many many years, before they find their voice and their best work. Exposure early on can be enormously helpful but it is unlikely that a 20-something or even 30-something is going to produce their best work.

We need directors to nurture them and we need high production values to inspire them onwards and we need constructive criticism too.

So, I think Lyn makes a good point about supportive directors and theatres. But new writing (despite James Agate’s arguments on the same guardain blog) needs support (and time to develop, eg Ibsen wrote many rubbish plays before hitting his stride) and the Edinborough fringe is not necessarily the place to get it.

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3 Responses to “New writing at Edinburgh Fringe, Lyn Gardner”

  1. RLN on August 22nd, 2005

    I beg to politely disagree with the assumption that playwrights in the 20-30 age range are unlikely to be ‘doing their best work.’

    Among the plays that never got beyond that juvenilia stage, albeit for the regrettable reason of their authors’ early deaths, are all those by Christopher Marlowe, Nathaniel Lee, Joe Orton, and Sarah Kane.

    Ibsen’s last play UNTIL WE DEAD AWAKEN seems to be produced less often than HEDDA GABLER, A DOLL’S HOUSE, and GHOSTS. John Osborne’s (late) LUTHER has never received the acclaim of his earlier LOOK BACK IN ANGER. And as for DEJA VU, his sequel to LOOK BACK, have you ever seen it revived?

    Tom Stoppard’s THE COAST OF UTOPIA, INDIA INK, and especially the dreadful INVENTION OF LOVE pale in comparison to the genuinely risk-taking brilliance of ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDERNSTERN ARE DEAD (written age 28) and NIGHT AND DAY (not much later.) Shaw’s earlier plays are now generally produced more often than his later ones. Wilde’s very early tragedy VERA, OR THE NIHILISTS (age 27-8, I think) is a better and thematically more radical play than THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST over 10 years later. Brian Friel’s early plays PHILADELPHIA HERE I COME, VOLUNTEERS, FAITH HEALER, and MAKING HISTORY (late 1950s-80s) have a desperate edge and aesthetic innovativeness that I find lacking in his 20+ years later MOLLY SWEENEY (FAITH HEALER recycled) and nice but tamer DANCING AT LUGHNASA (1990s).

    And then there’s Orson Welles, who, though not a playwright, never really topped the acclaim of CITIZEN KANE (made at age 25). My favourite play is the first and last by its then-26-year-old author.

    Finally, I’m 26, have gotten a fair amount of productions, awards, and readings of my work, and arrogantly think some of it is pretty good.

  2. Ben Yeoh on September 6th, 2005

    Well, I said it was unlikely but not impossible! A lot of good work is produced young.

    I would say unlike, in this context maybe means 30-40% chance of it happening or maybe less. And I think that out of very 10 playwrights only at max 3 or 4 of them would have produced their best work in their 20s. It’s probably the same for many writers and although there are many counter examples, I would still say they were in the minority, but maybe not – I’ll have to go and check.

    And maybe, you will be in the minority too where your best work is in your 20s but that would be shame as you wouldn’t have so many more years to go (!)

    Thanks for the comment.

    PS Is Arcadia TS’ best play? and Translations, Friel’s?

  3. Theatre » Early Works of Playwrights on September 6th, 2005

    [...] RLN disagreed with my suggestion that playwrights in the 20-30 age range are unlikely to be ‘doing their best 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