Where do I stand?
My plays break most of the standard rules of present-day playwriting.
Most of my plays have been written in verse, and are chary of using any form of stage direction, or explanation of mood or motive beyond the text intended to be spoken.
Since 1958 my plays have been written for performance-in-the-round, and involve sparse elements of scenery and few properties.
Stage make-up is done without, and the clothes used (not costume) belong to the present day, but sometimes with a symbolic effect. The playwright provides the words (the essence of theatre) and the actors (with or without a director) decide on the interpretation of language and character and the use of movement and gesture.
Where possible, there is no directional stage lighting, thereby placing performer and audience in the same “reality”. There is no attempt to pretend the audience is not there. It can be eyed and spoken to directly, often providing the sotto voce effect.
The role of the actor is a paradoxical one; on the one hand behaving as a clear glass window through which the words shine out – but, on the other, so absorbing the text that word and actor seem of one flesh, emanating from a source deeply struck in the playwright’s sub-conscious, succumbing to the ritual of the script’s dance, rather than to its intellectualised meaning.
All this is intention in my plays, rather than achievement, since the age is so given to the political and behavioural, that its concomitant realistic style is almost incapable of being ridded from the word’s performance.
It is a shift-on though from the play’s the thing. The form, as I see it, should have that honour, particularly at a time when form has been riddled with opinion, and content has so many presentational tricks to contend with, only the simplest statement can be made with any clear conviction.
My plays have been written for (often after being improvised by) childrens’, youth and adult companies. Thirty years with Word And Action (Dorset) – neither amateur nor professional in its status, produced half these plays: the distinction between amateur and professional in my case is meaningless. Few of my plays have earned money, but the commitment has always serious, and no less reputable than that of the capital companies.
“You are no playwright; are anti-theatre and no one but you can direct your plays”. Three clear comments over the years that suggest I’m in the wrong game. Yet, where the plays have been presented, thy have been keenly received.
Something is amiss, then, somewhere. Moreover they are economical to perform, tackling deep issues in an offbeat way, and laced with humour.
All the following playscripts are available for economical mostly-bare-stage (in-the-round) productions, capable of performance by companies (groups) of variable age-range. Most are innovative in attitudes to theatre, and largely eschew realistic or naturalistic interpretations.