So look, I know I should wait until tomorrow, when I haven’t just seen a dress rehearsal in the heavy heavy rain (halted ten minutes before the end because it was SO wet), when I haven’t just had a dozen great conversations and three glasses of wine, when I’ve spent one single night at home in front of the telly in the past week and a half and haven’t been gigging/book-working/buddhisting/talking/showing etc, forever – truly, I long for a night in front of the telly (I LOVE telly!) – but anyway …
This Medea I wrote (the words for) … go.
I’m very happy for people to go even though I’m really dubious about the concept of writers re-working other writers’ work and saying they ‘wrote’ it – whether in film, tv, stage or wherever (and in this case – No! du’uh! Euripides wrote the story – brilliant story – and I wrote the words) because I’m quite proud of them actually, but I’d always say the story mattered more, have done in very many places on this blog in fact …
Go because of course I would do some things differently, and many things the same, and there are also some things that I could never have dreamed myself and am so impressed by the cast and crew and Phil Willmott directing and it’s that place where all the things come together and make it way bigger, way more, way more exciting than a writer in their room can ever dream – the place where we all make it together.
Go because I never expected to work with an (respected, successful) writer-director who would text me/email/call and say “can you make us a new line here, it needs to do this” – rather than the traditional “we’re doing this, we’ve changed what you wrote” without consulting the writer or even considering they might care. Because that’s such a gift when I, like my playwright wife, like every writer I know, has been cajoled/wheedled/bullied into accepting changes we’d never have written. (And then blamed in the national press for those changes, because how do we tell that same press that the director – not us – added those bits??!) Maybe the clue is (which happened this time) to have the writer rarely in rehearsals, but to treat the script very respectfully. Maybe the clue is to have the writer (I did) work really hard on the script beforehand. Maybe the clue is to be gentle with each other.
Yes of course, all this sets me (us) up for you to hate it. If I like it too much, you have to not like. But actually, I tend to like it when other people (re)make my work, I tend to enjoy their variations, I tend to like that it’s NOT a solo effort. I get enough of that in book-writing (and mostly that’s not very solo either!)
And so I know, when I say I like what they’re doing down at The Scoop, it might make some people want to not like it, even without seeing it. Well, that’s ok. (Actually, it’s not, but that’s your right!) Look, the writer-director/writer-play/writer-actors relationship can be an very hard one. For all of us. (I direct too, I’m probably not as generous as Phil has been with me … but then I’m not as experienced as he is. AND we did all start with Euripides rather than merely some great idea one of us had about something we kind of sort of wanted to make …) But when it’s good, when those relationships work, it’s lovely. And I’d really like people to see what I think is lovely.
It’s true, there’s no accounting for actors’ paraphrasing. Even in a script in which I promise there’s just one line – intentional – that doesn’t fall into 4/6/8/10/12 meter … and no, I don’t expect you to count from the audience (better not to really!), but I hope it will pull you through, as true meter should. There’s no accounting for actors’ enjoying the moment, getting wet, making a perfect improvised joke for the night/the weather/the audience etc etc … there’s no saying (at all) that all the words you hear on any one night are mine.
But mostly I’m keen to tell my people (and others) to come because it’s the words (and rhythms and rhymes) I wrote for someone else’s 2500 year old play about some very truthful emotions, mainly to do with jealousy and family and pride, with a smart, bright, modern – gorgeous – cast in a stunning setting, made lovely and moving with lights and music and sound and costume, and it’s beside the river. My river. The Thames, not the Waikato (lucky me, I have two rivers – and if anybody wants to do this at Karapiro or Hamilton East, I reckon it would transfer really well), and things by the river are of my mother, and my love of language is of my mother, and so, I come back to the words …
here you go it’s free.