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The Playwriting Profession: Setting Out and the Journey

  • Theodore Shank

Abstract

Playwright Howard Barker says there is a kind of promotion system for playwrights in Britain. They begin on the fringe — perhaps in London at the Bush Theatre or Upstairs at the Royal Court or in Edinburgh at the Traverse Theatre — and if they do good work and develop a reputation, they are promoted to the main house at the Royal Court Theatre. If that goes well, the natural impetus, he says, is either toward writing for television or moving on to the Royal National Theatre or the Royal Shakespeare Company which are the premiere flagships of the culture. However, very few playwrights manage to follow this simple formula. The roads to success as a playwright are various. While it is impossible to describe the typical training and development of British playwrights, the opportunities available and a few selected case histories will suggest how some playwrights became playwrights and how they survive in a profession of severely limited opportunities.

Keywords

National Theatre Large Theatre Artistic Director Socratic Dialogue Experienced Writer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. (Unless otherwise noted, all quotations and paraphrases are from the interviews listed below.)Google Scholar

Interviews

  1. Attenborough, Michael. Executive Producer. Royal Shakespeare Company. Interview by the author, 4 September 1991.Google Scholar
  2. Barker, Howard. Playwright. Interview by the author, 24 August 1991.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, Ian. Artistic Director, Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh). Interview by the author, 29 August 1992.Google Scholar
  4. Burgess, John. Associate Director of the Royal National Theatre Studio and Literary Manager for New Work at the National. Interview by the author, 4 September 1991.Google Scholar
  5. Furse, Anna. Artistic Director, Paines Plough. Interview by the author, 4 September 1991.Google Scholar
  6. Hart, Charles. Officer in charge of Writer Schemes, Arts Council of Great Britain. Interview by the author, 5 September 1991.Google Scholar
  7. Keidan, Lois. Coordinator for New Collaborations, Arts Council of Great Britain. Interview by author, 4 September 1991.Google Scholar
  8. McGrath, Tom. Playwright and Associate Literary Manager at the Lyceum, Edinburgh. Interviewed by the author, 30 August 1991.Google Scholar
  9. Stafford-Clark, Max. Artistic Director, Royal Court Theatre. Interviewed by the author, 18 July 1991.Google Scholar
  10. Stock, James. Playwright. Interview by the author, 4 September 1991.Google Scholar

Unpublished Material

  1. Arts Council of Great Britain. Report on the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre. 1 August 1989.Google Scholar

Published Material

  1. Arts Council Schemes for Writers and Theatre Companies 1992/93. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1992.Google Scholar
  2. McMillan, Michael. Cultural Grounding; Live Art and Cultural Diversity: Action Research Project. A Report for the Visual Arts Department of the Arts Council of Great Britain. London: Arts Council, October 1990.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Theodore Shank 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore Shank
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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