I wrote this for a playwriting class I am taking.
My Manifesto April 29, 2010
(Okay, it’s really the ideal of my manifesto, but still.)
There is enough room in the world for many different kinds of theatre and so it follows that there is enough room for many different kinds of playwrights.
Some playwrights have to write very serious and lofty works. If such a one is skillful, a great play may result. If such a one is in love with his words or premises, and is not keenly insightful, an exhausting or stupid play may result. There will be audiences for both, though I steer clear as a rule of reading or seeing the exhausting play. I also steer clear of writing serious and lofty works because I’ve made peace with the fact that I am not interested in doing it.
Some playwrights have a heavy hand with which they hold forth their opinions – comic or tragic - through their characters and rather obviously. I hope I am not one of these, but I might be and not know it.
The best playwrights have a light touch and a deft hand. The writer is invisible – there is only the drama itself. The audience is invited into the play unawares and is richer for the experience, whether it is light or heavy, silly or tragic. Even in a large house with a proscenium stage, one finds oneself in the play, not thinking about the play. I aspire to be in this group of writers. Though I may never be skillful enough, I hope I never give up trying.
Some playwrights think that their work is terrible, but they keep writing anyway. I am often in this group.
For every five minutes of accolades I get about my work, there are days of self-doubt and self-criticism. I will savor those five minutes of praise each time and take it as true. Why not?I never doubt the truth of the self-criticism, do I?
It is absolutely okay that I take myself seriously as a writer, whether or not I write consistently or well by whatever standards are said to matter. I need not apologize to anyone for my work. I still will, of course, but I ought to remember that I don’t have to.
I am allowed by the only person who matters in this – ME – to enjoy writing on my own terms. I strive to be a more skillful writer so that I can craft a play that reflects my ideas, so that I can write what I think is a good play. I am not required to strive every day to be a serious writer, though. There are other things and people in my life that need my attention, too.
If in the future, I no longer wish to write plays, I never need be embarrassed that I thought that this was the thing for me. Life is like that and too short for such silly conceits.